Why Is This So Controversial?

I know this is Greenwald, so some of you are just going to lose your shit whenever you read the link, but someone please explain to me why this is so controversial:

Far from believing that another 9/11 can’t happen, I’m amazed that it hasn’t already, and am quite confident that at some point it will. How could any rational person expect their government to spend a full decade (and counting) invading, droning, cluster-bombing, occupying, detaining without charges, and indiscriminately shooting huge numbers of innocent children, women and men in multiple countries and not have its victims and their compatriots be increasingly eager to return the violence?

Just consider what one single, isolated attack on American soil more than a decade ago did to Sullivan, Packer and company: the desire for violence which that one attack 11 years ago unleashed is seemingly boundless by time or intensity. Given the ongoing American quest for violence from that one-day attack, just imagine the impact which continuous attacks over the course of a full decade must have on those whom we’ve been invading, droning, cluster-bombing, occupying, detaining without charges, and indiscriminately shooting.

Our mere presence in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War I years was what helped to radicalize Osama bin Laden. What on earth is so controversial about noting that a decades long reign of bombing and drone strikes and civilian casualties might be the motivating force behind terrorists plotting and attempting another 9/11 style attack? Somewhat related:

Obviously I have no desire for a nuclear Iran, but look at that map and tell me- are they really that crazy for wanting a nuclear deterrent? Ask North Korea and Saddam Hussein. Oh, wait.






224 replies
  1. 1
    cathyx says:

    Greenwald is exactly correct. They hate us for our militarism. And so do I.

  2. 2
    Metrosexual Black AbeJ says:

    He lives in Brazil, you know.

  3. 3
    samuel says:

    If only Ron Paul were prez he would hire a bunch of private Rambo like mercenaries to go in there and solve this Iran issue once and for all.

    Signed
    G. Greenwald.

    Stay stupid Cole.

  4. 4
  5. 5
    Metrosexual Black AbeJ says:

    I think he’s wrong that invading countries necessarily provokes terrorist attacks, though. We’ve invaded lots of counties and had very few terrorist attacks. I know it’s tempting to make the connection, but I don’t think the evidence is there.

  6. 6
    Violet says:

    I’d be pretty pissed off if unmanned aircraft kept dropping bombs and killing my fellow countrymen. And that’s only one of the things on the list. I can’t imagine it’s winning us any friends.

  7. 7
    nate says:

    We should probably try invading a half dozen more or so and blow up their wedding parties before we leap to any conclusions.

  8. 8
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    Our mere presence in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War I years was what helped to radicalize Osama bin Laden.

    Bullshit. OBL was an ambitious wannabe ruler of his wet dream of a Pan Arab caliphate, and the excuse of having troops in Saudi Arabia, as some kind of implied justification for 9-11 is nauseating at best. Same with our support of Israel. The other bloodthirsty shit Bush wrought, came after that, and was wrong and evil. Just like 9-11 was. You are fucking insane on this shit. There is no other way to describe it.

  9. 9
    Mojotron says:

    Sully caught the vapors from that piece from Glenn, but it’s on point. I’m not sure how you explain this concept to people whose empathy extends only as far as their fingertips.

  10. 10
    ira_NY says:

    Or, they might think: We better not ef around with these bastards.

  11. 11
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Violet: Seems like even if the aircraft were manned I’d be pretty pissed off, so maybe the unmanned quality doesn’t matter all that much.

  12. 12
    middlewest says:

    Posts like this remind me why the anti-war movement always, always loses, and will continue losing for the foreseeable future.

  13. 13
    Baud says:

    @Metrosexual Black AbeJ: Exactly the point I was going to make. GG’s whole premise is that Muslims/Arabs are inherently more inclined to respond to injustice through terrorist measures than other groups.

  14. 14
    BGinCHI says:

    I can’t understand why anyone would think that trying to convince people to leave us alone by killing them contains any contradictions.

  15. 15
    David Koch says:

    The guy who said Citizen’s United would have no effect on policy? The guy who peddled the retarded conspiracy theory that obama forced Feingold and bernie Sanders to vote against closing GITMO? The guy who supports a racist nut job like rUn PoLE?

    That’s who you’re citing?

  16. 16
    wesindc says:

    LOL Nothing gets out the crazies like a post about Greenwald (He lives in Brazil because his BOYFRIEND cannot live in the US legally dipstick) And yes I think we haven’t invaded/bombed from above enough brown hued population countries as of yet. What’s one more? Bill Maher did a great portion of his show last week about American imperialism sorry meant exceptionalism. WTF makes our fat, fast food, gasoline guzzling society any better then another? If one thing this country needs to do it is read and question what is going on not only in this country but across the world. We have the capability but of course we just devolve to name calling. Just my vent, bad day on my end :-)

  17. 17
  18. 18
    Brachiator says:

    Our mere presence in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War I years was what helped to radicalize Osama bin Laden. What on earth is so controversial about noting that a decades long reign of bombing and drone strikes and civilian casualties might be the motivating force behind terrorists plotting and attempting another 9/11 style attack?

    Because it’s simple minded bullshit. Because, for all his erudition, Greenwald always takes a reactive “we did bad shit and the world reacts” point of view instead of considering another nation’s view of their own national interest. Because it is easy to loll in the fantasy that neo-isolationism will insure that the world will leave you alone.

    Fuck, the government of Pakistan rightfully objects to our drone strikes in their country, but then turns around and says, “sell us some more military hardware and support whatever we do and STFU,” but Greenwald will stubbornly insist that Pakistan would either love us or ignore us if we just went away quietly.

    Shorter, I am fucking tired of both progressives and conservatives who insist that the universe revolves around what the US does or thinks. And it is not reductively that both sides do it. There are progressive voices that don’t get heard (I don’t care about the conservative voices). But there is a simple minded progressive elite that is just as venally stupid as any right wing wingnut.

    Aside from this, Greenwald is spot on.

  19. 19
    David Koch says:

    Cole, give it up. He’s never gonna add you to his blogroll. He’s just not that in to you.

  20. 20
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    @wesindc:

    LOL Nothing gets out the crazies like a post about Greenwald (He lives in Brazil because his BOYFRIEND cannot live in the US legally dipstick)

    Nobody has said a word about where GG lives on this thread. You are the fucking crazy one, trotting out a strawman first thing. Pathetic.

  21. 21
    clean willie says:

    GG only wrote it to pick on ABL! Smugly!

  22. 22
    cathyx says:

    @Stuck in the Funhouse: Psst! Look at comment #2.

  23. 23
    lacp says:

    It’s not controversial at all that somebody or some group is going to try more attacks on Americans, whether here or abroad. And they’ll probably succeed with some of them. I’m not sure what your point is – are you saying if we stopped with the drone missiles they’d forget about us? That’s not too likely as long as we’re materially supporting their perceived enemies.

    I think there are a lot of good reasons (especially moral ones) for us to reduce all of our military actions around the world, but the fear of retaliation is only one of them. Perhaps if we went full bore isolationist that might cool the terrorists’ jets, but it might not, too. Who knows? I don’t. You don’t. Glenn Greenwald doesn’t, either.

  24. 24
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Look, we’re the biggest bully on the block, per Colin Powell’s dream, and the rest of the world treats us accordingly.

    We’re asking to get our nose bloodied in return.

    Until we stop acting as if the profits of our corporations are more important than human life, we’ll continue to alienate others.

  25. 25
    David Koch says:

    Greenwald does have a point. The Yankees are terrorist. Even after Mullah bin Steinbrenner died.

  26. 26
    John Cole says:

    Because it’s simple minded bullshit

    It’s not fucking simple-minded. Yes, there were multiple reasons for why he did what he did, but we are supposed to just ignore his stated reasons, which were sanctions on Iraq, our presence in Saudi Arabia, and our support for Israel?

    We’re just supposed to ignore those because it is inconvenient for your argument in a blog comment section? Those were some of his stated reasons, and I think it is idiotic to just dismiss them.

  27. 27
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    @cathyx:

    You are so fucking stupid, it’s a wonder you can even run a computer. That was DougJ snark, genius. Not a serious comment.

  28. 28
    Peregrinus says:

    @Metrosexual Black AbeJ:

    On the fence here – I don’t think it’s necessarily going to be the case, but it’s also worth pointing out that US law enforcement, intelligence and security have been doing a pretty excellent job making sure it doesn’t happen.

  29. 29
    FlipYrWhig says:

    As to the larger point — I’m sure using war tactics to fight terrorism leads to more terrorists, and more sympathy for terrorists. I’m also sure that using “law enforcement” and “covert action” kinds of tactics would occasion less blowback, but would also put more American soldiers at greater risk. And I’m also sure that taking a hands-off stance wouldn’t eliminate the possibility of terrorism, because terrorism is something used by people who are outgunned and committed to a cause. All of which is why finding the right mix of tactics is fucking difficult.

    To go back to the Awlaki case, if the mission to get Awlaki had been more like the mission to get bin Laden, and the helicopter went down, or the agents were picked off in a firefight like at Waco, would civil libertarians defend the decision to use those tactics rather than drones or airstrikes?

  30. 30
    John S. says:

    This is more commonly known as fixing the facts, and Greenwald does it all too often. Our militaristic adventures around the world have brought us a lot of trouble, but Greenwald is connecting a lot of dots that don’t really connect.

    Many others have pointed out the major faults in his argument, so I won’t cover the same ground. Why Cole continues to be smitten with this libertarian and his fancy yet flawed arguments remains a mystery.

  31. 31
    SteveM says:

    Greenwald says our militarism inspires attacks. The supporters of our current foreign policy say militarism deters attacks. I don’t want to sound like an obnoxious centrist, and I know saying this invites everyone to hate me, but I think both of these things are somewhat true. I know we snarked off about killing 35,000 Al Qaeda #2’s in the Bush years, and now we’re doing the same thing under Obama, but how can that not have at least some disruptive effect? Though at the same time the militarist excess also clearly does alienate a lot of people in the Arab/Muslim world, for the obvious reason that innocent people are dying.

    So what’s the cost/benefit ratio? I don’t fucking know. But neither does Greenwald.

    What bothers me about what you quoted is that it’s written as if nothing violent that we’ve ever done reduced the likelihood of an attack; the impact is 100% one way. I don’t believe that. I didn’t believe that under Bush. I thought the Iraq War was a stupid war primarily because Iraq had nothing to do with Al Qaeda. But I can’t say that killing or capturing OBL in 2001 would have upset me, and I was far from horrified when he actually was killed. I didn’t think invading Afghanistan after 9/11 was a war crime.

    So I guess that means I’m a disgusting pig who’d support Obama if he raped nuns.

  32. 32
    cathyx says:

    @Stuck in the Funhouse: What possible difference does it make if it’s snark or not? It was mentioned and you said it wasn’t.

  33. 33
    clean willie says:

    @cathyx: I have a feeling you won’t get very far reasoning with Dick in the Funhouse.

  34. 34
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @John Cole:

    I think it is idiotic to just dismiss them.

    Well, everyone knows that no one actually believes their stated reasons. He had to have others, more esoteric and subtle.

    Yeah, that Caliphate thing. That’s the ticket!

  35. 35
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Hey, some of us were saying as far back as the first WTC bombing that US actions in the Middle East were causing blowback. It isn’t controversial, but it isn’t genius either.

  36. 36
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    @John Cole:

    We’re just supposed to ignore those because it is inconvenient for your argument in a blog comment section? Those were some of his stated reasons, and I think it is idiotic to just dismiss them.

    Allow to inform you what is idiotic. Firstly, to take the word of a guy planning to fly big airplanes into big buildings, murdering a bunch of people.

    And Even if he was some serious about this particular utterance. The second idiotic thing is, OBL said a lot of stuff, and if you would take the time to read it before spouting off and stenographing the drivel from GG, you would learn that his main objective was to overthrow Arab governments, with Islamic ones, presumably with him in charge. And when that was a done deal, spread the Islamic empire out to the rest of the world. Dreamy, yes. But what’s a terrorist to do all day sitting in his cave?

  37. 37
    slightly-peeved says:

    To answer GG’s question directly, 9/11- style attacks stopped working on 9/11. That day. As soon as the passengers on that other hijacked flight (97, was it?) found out what happened to the other hijacked planes, they stormed the cockpit. Anyone attempting a copycat attack would have to factor in being able to kill/overpower the majority of the passengers.

  38. 38
    joes527 says:

    @ira_NY: Is that what 9/11 taught us?

  39. 39
    Cap'n Magic says:

    JUne 23, 2018:

    VUSA day: China/DPRK/ME/SA forces succeed in USA surrender after successful raids of all state/Federal capitals; Bush, Cheney, Obama arrested for war crimes, Japan a wasteland after 2014 earthquake destroys remaining Fukushima plants

  40. 40
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    @John Cole:

    It’s not fucking simple-minded. Yes, there were multiple reasons for why he did what he did, but we are supposed to just ignore his stated reasons, which were sanctions on Iraq, our presence in Saudi Arabia, and our support for Israel?

    So when comes the post where you go after the American body politic’s abject dismissal of the validity of Mein Kampf and the Greater Japanese Co-Prosperity Sphere?

  41. 41
    magurakurin says:

    @cathyx:

    It was mentioned and you said it wasn’t.

    Jesus wept.

  42. 42
    Yolagringo says:

    I would love to hear what the many innocent victims of our drone operations think about the cost/benefit ratio.

    “I thought the Iraq War was a stupid war primarily because Iraq had nothing to do with Al Qaeda”

    Right, not the 100,000+ people that likely died? I’m proud to be American.

  43. 43
    joes527 says:

    @Baud: No. Greenwald’s point is that they are _exactly_ like us. A feeling of powerlessness in the face of violent attacks provokes a violent response. Plug in any nation/color/religion you want. It works the same way.

  44. 44
    Reklam says:

    @Metrosexual Black AbeJ: He’s just living there to add to the potential dramatic irony given the non-zero possibility of a one-day rendition. (Brasil doesn’t subject its citizens to extradition.)
    Or DOMA.

  45. 45
    Mnemosyne says:

    @John S.:

    This is more commonly known as fixing the facts, and Greenwald does it all too often. Our militaristic adventures around the world have brought us a lot of trouble, but Greenwald is connecting a lot of dots that don’t really connect.

    That’s exactly why I can’t take Greenwald seriously — way too many times, I’ve seen him confidently state that Fact A and Fact B can only lead to Conclusion Z, with no supporting evidence to get him there.

    There probably will be blowback from our meddling in the Middle East, especially Iraq, but I doubt it will be as simple as a terrorist attack. Hell, 9/11 itself can be directly traced to Carter’s and Reagan’s meddling in Afghanistan in addition to the events of the first Gulf War, so GG’s simplistic A+B=Z doesn’t hold up.

    I guess my question is, if there’s a direct link between US military action within a country and terrorist attacks, why were most of the 9/11 hijackers from Saudi Arabia?

  46. 46
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @The Sheriff’s A Ni-: Hey, maybe if the US government hadn’t tried so hard to take away law-abiding citizens’ guns, Timothy McVeigh wouldn’t have wanted to blow up the Murrah Building.

  47. 47
    joes527 says:

    @middlewest:

    Posts like this remind me why the anti-war movement always, always loses, and will continue losing for the foreseeable future.

    Because the anti-war movement doesn’t have enough unmanned drones?

  48. 48
    clean willie says:

    @The Sheriff’s A Ni-: Right after you & your buddies explain how the Treaty of Versailles did nothing to prime a populace for a warmongering ultranationalist demagogue, or US aggression in the Middle East failed to provide OBL with the enraged supporters he needed.

  49. 49
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Mnemosyne: Don’t forget the part where he then says that if you don’t accept his Conclusion Z, you must be a mindless authoritarian. That’s the specialty of the House of Greenwald.

  50. 50
    Heliopause says:

    Greenwald isn’t the controversial part. Neither is US foreign policy, which even the lowest-grade knuckle-dragger knows will inevitably lead to more hatred and terrorism.

    The controversial part (here) is attaching Obama to the policy. Fact is, Obama buys fully into the bipartisan elite consensus that the US is to dominate the world through violence and intimidation. It’s not that elites want terrorism to increase, it’s that they don’t care whether it does or not, since that concern is subordinated to the greater goal. The controversy (here) is, as I said, noting that Obama buys in completely, differing from the right wing of foreign policy elites not in principle but on tactics.

  51. 51
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I guess my question is, if there’s a direct link between US military action within a country and terrorist attacks, why were most of the 9/11 hijackers from Saudi Arabia

    Because Saudi Arabia is the birth place and home base of Wahabbism, that was the chosen strain of Islam for OBL, and his troops. And he isn’t the only Saudi of birth to promote that militant version of Islam. Saudi oil money from within the House of Saud has been spread around the Muslim world in the form of madrassas , particularly in Pakistan. It is akin to the Dominionists of Christianity, in its total belief of Islam being the one way, for the world. And adopting violence to achieve those ends.

  52. 52
    El Tiburon says:

    @Metrosexual Black AbeJ:

    We’ve invaded lots of counties and had very few terrorist attacks. I know it’s tempting to make the connection, but I don’t think the evidence is there.

    Wow. This is perhaps the stupidest fucking comment I’ve seen in a long fucking time. I mean, the more I read it, the stupider it gets.

    Other than 9-11 – yeah, not so much. Oh, and don’t forget all of the Embassy bombings and attack on the USS Cole so on and so forth.

    And perhaps the reason there has been “very few” (whatever that means. I guess the Columbine killers killed only a “very few” students, but again, whatever) terrorists attacks is because it’s really not that easy for an Afghani or Pakistani peasant to row his fucking canoe over here and attack us.

    And perhaps another reason there has been “very few” (I guess Manson’s cult only killed “very few” people) is that even though we bomb and murder their citizens and children – most human beings are not driven to go out and murder other people.

    So, according to you, the evidence is not there because we are not being attacked daily. Forget the plethora of quotes from people who have either attacked us or want to attack us that the reason is that we shit on their country.

    Or perhaps they hate us because of our freedoms.

    Jeez- such a stupid fucking comment.

    Or – if you were being funny, then disregard this reply.

  53. 53
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @clean willie: Then again, how much anti-American terrorism did it create when the US bankrolled right-wing juntas and paramilitaries in South America for decade after decade? As I recall, the terrorism that did result was by the right-wingers, like Operation Condor. I’m not sure that there’s an inevitable sequence that always leads from the US meddling in your government to your wanting to kill Americans.

  54. 54
    Joseph Nobles says:

    To paraphrase The Big Lebowski: No, Glenn, you’re not wrong, you’re just an asshole.

  55. 55
    Valdivia says:

    @John S.:

    yep, this is where I am on GG.

  56. 56
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    @clean willie:

    Right after you & your buddies explain how the Treaty of Versailles did nothing to prime a populace for a warmongering demagogue

    ha ha ha oh wow

    or US aggression in the Middle East failed to provide OBL with the enraged supporters he needed.

    Bin Laden could’ve told his followers that the mothership was coming in the next comet and their route to heaven was by donning a pair of Nikes and flying a 737 into the World Trade Center, and he would’ve found enough suckers to do his dirty work regardless. Psychopaths gonna psycho.

  57. 57
    David Koch says:

    What if bin Laden’s “stated” reason was anti-western culturalism. That he hated women in the work place, contraception, gays, Apple Computers, Coca Cola, and Adam Sandler movies (well, he has a point on Sandler movies).

    Would you say, we should the West should respond and stop offending and radicalizing crazy people around the world? I doubt it.

    So you should really delink your argument. If you’re against invasions and occupations and exploitations, that’s one thing. most people would agree with you. But to say, countries should kow tow to rants of cranks, then your case is weak.

  58. 58
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Heliopause:

    Obama buys fully into the bipartisan elite consensus that the US is to dominate the world through violence and intimidation.

    Putting it that way completely obliterates the existence of “liberal hawks” and “humanitarian intervention” and lumps them together with Straussian neoconservatism. That’s way too schematic for my tastes. There’s a big difference between Richard Perle and Samantha Power.

  59. 59
    Yolagringo says:

    I see where you Greenwald haters are coming from: I mean if you’re not right 100% of the time you have no credibility. Thankfully we have blog comments sections.

  60. 60
    Baud says:

    @joes527:

    The exact quote GG used was “another 9-11.”. If he had formulated his idea the way you did, it would not be so insulting.

  61. 61
    David Koch says:

    @Heliopause:

    Obama buys fully into the bipartisan elite consensus that the US is to dominate the world through violence and intimidation.

    Which is why Obama withdrew from Iraq.

    Which is why Obama (unlike GG) opposed the Iraq war in the first place.

  62. 62
    El Tiburon says:

    @Baud:

    GG’s whole premise is that Muslims/Arabs are inherently more inclined to respond to injustice through terrorist measures than other groups.

    Wow – a twofer: Two stupid fucking comments so close together.

    Did you go sit on the toiler, reach down and yank this bullshit from your a-hole? Greenwald’s premise is no such thing.

    In fact, Greenwald states almost the opposite: that a single attack on US soil turned many Americans and one Brit into fucking war savages. That those people being attacked are “Muslims/Arabs” is irrelevant in that the response would be the same from any group of people who were being maliciously attacked and slaughtered by another group.

    As the old adage goes: one man’s terrorist is anothers freedom fighter. My best guess is that if Al Queda had a butt load of bombers and missiles and hundreds of thousands of soldiers and jets and tanks and military bases, they wouldn’t use box cutters.

    GG’s premise was this: if country A continues to bomb and murder citizens of Country B, then it is natural to expect those in Country B to retaliate. And that is the polices of country A that are greatly responsible for those attacks.

    Seriously. So much stupid.

  63. 63
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    @Heliopause:

    Fact is, Obama buys fully into the bipartisan elite consensus that the US is to dominate the world through violence and intimidation.

    Fact is, Obama knows the history of his own country from the Missile Gap to George McGovern to the Iran Hostages to Ronnie Raygun to Operation Desert Storm to the Swift Boats.

    Fix our fellow Americans first, then we can worry about the leadership that puts them in place.

  64. 64
    Joey Giraud says:

    Our mere presence in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War I years was what helped to radicalize Osama bin Laden

    Maybe OBL ( who General Stuck seems to know personally quite well, ) was already radicalized, but our heavy hand certainly gained him plenty of followers.

    Greenwald’s only sins are his verbosity and high moral dudgeon. His take-home points are always correct.

  65. 65
    NR says:

    Man, a post about Greenwald brings out the mindless Obama ass-kissers like nothing else. Greenwald doesn’t suck up to the Great Leader, so he must be ignored and insulted, even when he’s right. Pathetic.

  66. 66
    joes527 says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Afghanistan isn’t a “humanitarian intervention” by any stretch, but it is the war Obama loves the most. Someone will be by this thread shortly to point out that he was sending love letters to the Afghanistan war even before he was elected, so it is TOTALLY hypocritical for anyone to call it a war or say anything bad or … OK, I forgot how that argument goes. BECAUSE SHUT UP, THAT’S WHY. (yeah, that’s how it goes.)

  67. 67
    wesindc says:

    @Stuck in the Funhouse:I don’t normally feed trolls but the second comment in the thread mentions him living in Brazil which was of course posted in snark. I was making a point. Many rebups/libtards disparage Greenwald spending half a year in Brazil and the reason being is because teh GAYS do not have the same rights and liberties as other US citizens. He cannot live here with his husband due to our stupid and backward policies. Learn to read and reason a bit.

  68. 68
    clean willie says:

    @The Sheriff’s A Ni-: Please. If it weren’t for U.S. military exploits throughout the region lasting decades, OBL would have had about 2 followers.

  69. 69
    El Tiburon says:

    @Brachiator:

    Because it is easy to loll in the fantasy that neo-isolationism will insure that the world will leave you alone.

    Fuck my brain. GG really does bring out the full-metal retard.

    Who is talking about any kind of “neo-isolationism” whatever the fuck that means.

    It is so very simple: if you continue to bomb and kill people for no fucking reason, and those people rise up and retaliate -then you have no one to blame but yourself.

    GG is not talking about a policy of isolationism. He is talking about the policy of not wantonly killing brown people all over the place. It is counter-intuitive. It makes no sense. You are not eradicating the enemy. You are making more of them.

    Answer this: if your children were bombed by a Afghani missile, what the fuck would you do?

  70. 70
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @NR: That is a spot-on Greenwald impression. Kudos to you.

  71. 71

    @Metrosexual Black AbeJ:

    I think he’s wrong that invading countries necessarily provokes terrorist attacks

    And that wanting to launch terrorist attacks necessarily makes them happen. There are certainly people out there who would love to create a new 9/11, but that doesn’t mean they have the capability to create one. That’s obviously no excuse to keep up our current foreign policy, but it means our problems are more likely to be that other countries are unhappy with us than that we’re going to be blown up.

  72. 72
    Mnemosyne says:

    @El Tiburon:

    GG’s premise was this: if country A continues to bomb and murder citizens of Country B, then it is natural to expect those in Country B to retaliate.

    Except that’s not what happened with 9/11. Country A (the US) was, to use your phrasing, bombing and murdering citizens of Country B (Iraq), and citizens of Country C (Saudi Arabia) retaliated. So his premise is wrong right off the bat.

  73. 73
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    @clean willie:

    Please. If it weren’t for U.S. military exploits throughout the region lasting decades, OBL would have had about 2 followers.

    Show your proof.

  74. 74
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Except that’s not what happened with 9/11. Country A (the US) was, to use your phrasing, bombing and murdering citizens of Country B (Iraq), and citizens of Country C (Saudi Arabia) retaliated. So his premise is wrong right off the bat.

    Only mindless Obots don’t recognize that all those dirty brown folk are all the same.

  75. 75
    David Koch says:

    ya know, this blog produces 10 posts per day — every day.

    And there are people who never ever offer any contributions to those posts or to this community, whether the subject is sports, cooking, pets, humor, music, entertainment, gay rights, women’s rights, economics, war, legal issues, science, or elections.

    yet, bring up GG, and like “Beetlejuice” an odd cast of characters ooze out of the woodwork, furiously defending their Dear Leader.

  76. 76
    samuel says:

    @Stuck in the Funhouse: I’ll bet Cole was at the front of the line yelling “Team America, fuck yea” when Bush was landing on that aircraft carrier in flight suit and standing in front of the Mission Accomplished sign.

    People like Cole aren’t capable of think for themselves. They always need someone telling them what to think. These days it seems it’s mostly Greenwald and his ‘war is bad so end all war’ deep thoughts. Childishly simplistic so people with the mind of a child are easily convinced.

  77. 77
    Atticus Dogsbody says:

    If you blow up my family I am going to seriously consider sticking a bomb up your arse. Fuck it! If I get the chance, I will.

    Very simple concept.

  78. 78
    gorram says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    As to the larger point—I’m sure using war tactics to fight terrorism leads to more terrorists, and more sympathy for terrorists. I’m also sure that using “law enforcement” and “covert action” kinds of tactics would occasion less blowback, but would also put more American soldiers at greater risk.

    Uh, no. Covert action remains, dare I say, covert because it involves fewer people. Those alternatives, as I understand it, do put some American operatives in greater danger, but they also reduce the total number of people involved in the conflict (depending on the handling of the situation – they reduce the number of Americans by replacing them with domestic law enforcement or “law enforcement”, but that’s also true of some military-focused strategies, like the whole training Iraqis/Afghanistanis strategy).

    Long story short, no. What it requires are realistic expectations about how to obtain useful and accurate information (hint: not torture!) and ideally cooperation with a local democratic government. Without the former, we just end up going on wild goose chases and wasting resources and without the latter it seems less like we’re enforcing laws and more like we’re dictating and enforcing them in allegedly sovereign nations.

    Unfortunately, however, those are increasingly rare circumstances to come by, because we, in the US, can’t get over 24 for some moronic reason and because we’ve spent the past sixty-odd years using covert methods to shut down democratic representation throughout most of the Islamic world.

    Because repairing both of those systemic problems requires political capital Obama doesn’t have anymore (in the US or internationally), he’s chosen to try and gain the political capital from removing Americans from the front but by replacing them with local recruits (and to some extent the military strategists from the still largely undemocratic regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan) and drones. We’ll send in machines and colonial subjects to do the fighting, rather than confront the underlying issues.

  79. 79
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @El Tiburon: Your phrases like “wantonly” and “for no fucking reason” are doing a lot of heavy lifting. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that everyone who ever has been killed in the Arab/Muslim world by American military force or equipment was an actual honest-to-God “evildoer.” In other words, in this hypothetical, every last one of them was killed for a good fucking reason. Wouldn’t _that_ prompt blowback and retaliation too? I don’t think the “wantonness” of killing has a lot to do with it. Precision killing would have the same effect, no?

  80. 80
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @joes527: The argument goes that people should not be shocked that Obama continued actions in Afghanistan because he said that what he was going to do. Any expectation that Obama was a pacifist or even pacifist-curious based on his opposition to the Iraq War was foolish. It was the result of people projecting their own views onto Obama in direct contradiction of his own statements of his intentions. That is the argument.

  81. 81
    El Tiburon says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Except that’s not what happened with 9/11. Country A (the US) was, to use your phrasing, bombing and murdering citizens of Country B (Iraq), and citizens of Country C (Saudi Arabia) retaliated. So his premise is wrong right off the bat.

    I was not specifically speaking about 9-11. Nor was Greenwald. It is a more general idea.

    Listen, this is not a controversial idea. Read Chalmers Johnson’s Blowback written before in Jan. of 2001.

    Don’t get so hung up in the nationality. 9-11 was more of a retaliation for our treatment of the entire Middle East.

  82. 82
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    @wesindc:

    Maybe you need to comment less, and read more. DougJ is a front pager here, you could even say he is Cole’s Number One, like Commander Riker. And therefore no troll. He was once a prolific and venerated blog spoof, of renown. He has swore that life off. So as much as one can believe a world class spoof, he now only limits himself to the occasional snark.

    If that is what you were basing your comment on, then so be it. Live and learn. But the “Brazil living” canard having been stated by only a few people in the past on this blog. And is now used by GG acolytes, In an effort to avoid substantial criticism of Mr. Greenwald. Criticism that is legion, for spreading misinformation throughout the liberal blogosphere. Not to mention his being a first rate nasty piece of work, in general.

    I’m pissed off about something else entirely, and need to go fix my face.

  83. 83
    clean willie says:

    @The Sheriff’s A Ni-: As you well know, my statement can’t be proved. Much like yours:

    Bin Laden could’ve told his followers that the mothership was coming in the next comet and their route to heaven was by donning a pair of Nikes and flying a 737 into the World Trade Center, and he would’ve found enough suckers to do his dirty work regardless

    Thus a person can only choose between these 2 unprovable statements by using sense. Does violence beget more violence as it marginalizes calls for moderation? Or does the escalating cycle of violence only reveal our enemies to be “psychos” who would have behaved that way anyway? Which narrative rings true?

  84. 84
    Joey Giraud says:

    Country A (the US) was, to use your phrasing, bombing and murdering citizens of Country B (Iraq), and citizens of Country C (Saudi Arabia) retaliated. So his premise is wrong right off the bat.

    The story is that OBL did 9/11 because of our military presence in Saudi Arabia.

    So many stories. There’s a whole wing in the Pentagon devoted to cooking up more.

  85. 85
    Mnemosyne says:

    @The Sheriff’s A Ni-:

    The funniest part is, El Tib’s construction is exactly why the Bush administration was so desperate to tie Saddam Hussein to 9/11 — they knew that fewer Americans would object if we could say, “Hey, they attacked us first!” And they sold that lie hard enough that there are still Americans out there who think Saddam was involved.

    But no Iraqis attacked us on 9/11. Not a single one. So already the construction that GG set up falls apart.

  86. 86
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @gorram: OK, but sending a dozen Marines into harm’s way makes it a lot more likely that at least one Marine gets killed, at least as compared to dropping a bomb on the site. A Balkans war-by-airstrike can be done with no American casualties — but with much greater risk of civilians on the ground getting killed or maimed. A Special Forces kind of thing minimizes the amount of potential damage to civilians, but makes it much more likely to face American casualties. And that has a lot to do with why presidents develop a romance for Death From Above.

  87. 87
    joes527 says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: OK. That’s fine as far as it goes. Obama was, is and will be a liberal hawk. Anyone surprised by that wasn’t paying attention. I get that.

    But the argument often seems to extend to: “It’s wrong to criticize Obama for being a liberal hawk because he totally told us he was a liberal hawk.” That’s where I get lost.

  88. 88
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    @samuel:

    get away from me, you are the same as all the other dipshits with an angle.

  89. 89
    Donald says:


    “Because it’s simple minded bullshit. Because, for all his erudition, Greenwald always takes a reactive “we did bad shit and the world reacts” point of view instead of considering another nation’s view of their own national interest. Because it is easy to loll in the fantasy that neo-isolationism will insure that the world will leave you alone.”

    If GG claimed that our bad actions were the sole reason for the existence of terrorists, then yeah, he’d be an idiot. But suppose he is an idiot. We still have a record of supporting Arab dictators, imposing brutal sanctions on Iraq, and supporting Israeli’s version of apartheid and obviously these are among the biggest reasons we are hated and that’s true no matter what you think of GG.

    It also doesn’t matter whether Osama bin Laden really cares about Palestinians or dead Iraqi children–the point is that he claimed he did in part because he knew it would attract support in that part of the world if he claimed those were his causes. We shouldn’t be giving terrorists legitimate grievances they can exploit to win some level of popular support. (Besides, it’s wrong to starve children, support dictators, and give Israel a blank check.)

  90. 90
    El Tiburon says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Precision killing would have the same effect, no?

    Even if it is killing with a big mac and a smile, yes, it would have the same effect. I’m not sure what you are getting at here.

    You know I have a suspicion that after we dropped the big ones on Japan that there were a lot of unhappy Japanese people. But, again, this is just my suspicion because I’m not WWII historian, I suspect that the Japanese people were mostly united in their war against the US and they knew they were bombing and killing Americans. So, when they lost, they realized it and had to accept their fate. This is not what is happening in Afghanistan or Pakistan. Here you have rural peasants mostly going about their lives: a wedding here, a trip to the market there, and then BOOM – there goes little brother and sisters guts spread all over the country side.

    They are basically being terrorized from the sky for no fucking reason. Are there some bad people over there? Absolutely. Just like right here in the US. But WANTONLY or FOR THE FUCK OF IT dropping bombs to knock off a few militants while terrorizing the populace is NOT winning the war. It is making it worse.

  91. 91
    Joey Giraud says:

    @samuel:

    It be hard to think when you’re emotionally charged.

    IMO, Greenwald gets attention not for his points, but because of his emotionally charged language, with plenty of blaming phrases to go around.

    Of course people get upset; American’s don’t like the idea that we’re doing bad things.

  92. 92
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Mnemosyne: Have any Iraqis undertaken any acts of terrorism against Americans outside of Iraq?

    @El Tiburon: And yet America fucked up pretty much all of South America and the entire indigenous population of North America, without this kind of “blowback.” Something’s missing in that theory.

  93. 93

    @Mnemosyne:

    I guess my question is, if there’s a direct link between US military action within a country and terrorist attacks, why were most of the 9/11 hijackers from Saudi Arabia?

    Because they saw basing US troops in their country as an unfriendly military action. Seriously. Bin Laden saw US military bases in Saudi Arabia as an invasion by heathens, whether we were invited there by the government or not. You can argue whether we should change our foreign policy to accommodate somebody with those views, but that’s what he said.

  94. 94
    joes527 says:

    @Mnemosyne: OK. There have been a lot of accusations of stupidity in this thread … but we might have a winner.

    The very idea that the violence that springs from feeling powerless in the face of attack is a rational action misunderestimates what is going on.

    9/11 happened and the US of F’n A wanted to kill some towelheads. The distinction that you draw between brown people has no bearing on the desire to kill Kill KILL!!

  95. 95
    Mnemosyne says:

    @El Tiburon:

    I was not specifically speaking about 9-11. Nor was Greenwald. It is a more general idea.

    Silly me — when Greenwald said “9/11,” I thought he was talking about 9/11, especially when he was talking about how people’s “compatriots” will react. Do you actually think that al-Qaeda acted as they did because they were defending Saddam Hussein?

    Listen, this is not a controversial idea. Read Chalmers Johnson’s Blowback written before in Jan. of 2001.

    The controversial idea is that the blowback that Johnson talked about is the simple A+B=C construction that Greenwald is putting forth. From what I can tell, Johnson’s book is constructed around the idea that you can’t predict what the blowback will be.

    Here’s a controversial idea for you: al-Qaeda didn’t attack the US on 9/11 because they were angry about the US sanctions on Iraq — they attacked the US because they wanted to provoke an overreaction by the US that would piss off the rest of the world and reduce our ability to work in concert with other countries. And we obliged them.

    So, no, contrary to what Greenwald thinks, I seriously doubt that we will be troubled with Afghan or Iraqi terrorists anytime soon, or even people acting specifically on their behalf. There will be consequences but it’s not going to be as simple as “you killed my father — prepare to die.” And we’re not going to recognize that what happened was a consequence of an earlier action until afterwards.

  96. 96
    Donald says:

    “And yet America fucked up pretty much all of South America and the entire indigenous population of North America, without this kind of “blowback.” Something’s missing in that theory.”

    I was about to say that what’s missing is that there are usually multiple factors and just because we fuck up a country doesn’t necessarily mean terrorists will strike back, but I just did a double take–

    “the entire indigenous population of North America”

    You can’t be thinking straight. The Native Americans did launch what we would now call terrorist attacks against white settlers. Back then instead of being called “terrorists” they were called “inhuman savages” or something of that sort.

  97. 97
    lacp says:

    @FlipYrWhig: There wasn’t any blowback from the indigenous population of North America? WTF?

  98. 98
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @El Tiburon: Civilian casualties have happened, and they are tragic, and everyone involved should be accountable. They are black marks for America. But I seriously don’t think it’s “wanton” or just random annihilation, as seen in the footage from Vietnam of the waves of bombs just setting the whole jungle on fire.

    But that’s not an argument where I think I have any chance of persuading anyone who isn’t already persuaded.

    The bigger point was this. IMHO American military involvement in countries that are not America would breed “blowback” even if the only people who were ever killed or maimed were guilty. That would still produce a logic where the people aligned with the people being killed would think, “For revenge, now we kill a few of yours.” So if that’s true, both “wanton” killing and “precise” killing would generate plots for retaliation — which breaks the link between the wantonness of the killing and the likelihood of violent response. And very few people argue that killing only bad guys, never the innocent, shouldn’t be done because of the potential “blowback.”

  99. 99
    slag says:

    @SteveM: I’m kinda there with you.

  100. 100
    David Koch says:

    Every liberal’s favorite president LBJ killed a lot of Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians and they never bothered to attack the empire state building.

    For all the Iraqis Bush and John Edwards murdered, there hasn’t been one Iraqi citizen who has attempted to attack the brooklyn bridge.

    so this argument that killing, invading, occupying, and exploitation a country leads to attacks on US soil simply is nonexistent and fear mongering.

    The entire argument is based on fear and revenge: the US harms another nation and the people of that nation will exact revenge. But they haven’t.

    Boiled down, this point of view is nothing more than a projection of american impulses of fear and revenge on to others.

    Congratulations on thinking so little of other cultures and so much of yourselves that you think, deep down, everyone is western.

  101. 101
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @joes527: I can only say how I have used the argument and that is in response to someone who says “When I voted for Obama, I was voting for peace”. I think it is reasonable answer to that kind of comment – beyond that, I would not go.

  102. 102
    Mnemosyne says:

    @joes527:

    9/11 happened and the US of F’n A wanted to kill some towelheads. The distinction that you draw between brown people has no bearing on the desire to kill Kill KILL!!

    And my point is, that was al-Qaeda’s plan. That was the result they wanted. Any high-minded speeches that Bin Laden made about making the attack on behalf of his invaded homeland or the starving Iraqi people were excuses to conceal the real purpose, which was to provoke the US into overreacting.

    That’s why I’m saying that GG’s “A+B=C” construction is stupid. He doesn’t seem to realize that there was an actual strategy behind 9/11 on al-Qaeda’s part.

    9/11 was blowback from decades of stupid foreign policy decisions, but it wasn’t revenge for those policies. It was an invitation for the US to lash out. And, boy howdy, did Bin Laden succeed beyond his wildest dreams.

  103. 103
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Here’s a controversial idea for you: al-Qaeda didn’t attack the US on 9/11 because they were angry about the US sanctions on Iraq—they attacked the US because they wanted to provoke an overreaction by the US that would piss off the rest of the world and reduce our ability to work in concert with other countries. And we obliged them.

    Spot on. Because we were in his way to change the paradime in the ME, especially oil producing Arab countries/ Not because of US troops in Saudi Arabia that had liberated Kuwait. But those claims were also good for recruiting more terrorists among the populations of the Arab world. Especially in SA. As well as harping on our support for Israel for the same effect.

    Edit – of course. then boy George did his part for the ObL recruitment effort by insanely invading Iraq.

  104. 104

    @FlipYrWhig:

    And yet America fucked up pretty much all of South America and the entire indigenous population of North America, without this kind of “blowback.”

    If you think our messing with the indigenous population of North America didn’t have any blowback, you need a history lesson, stat. The conquest of North America was a very nasty business that involved endless atrocities against unarmed civilians by both sides. If Native Americans didn’t pull off a 9/11-type attack, it was from lack of capability, not lack of desire.

  105. 105
    gorram says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I guess my question is, if there’s a direct link between US military action within a country and terrorist attacks, why were most of the 9/11 hijackers from Saudi Arabia?

    You’re assuming a universal conception of meaningful communities. In the US, everyone rallied because some one attacked our country (in many people’s words at the time “attacked us” – as if every individual in the US) on 9/11, sure. But why is that the only salient community or even the most salient one in other parts of the world?

    In the US, we have some sort of democratic representation, and as a result, many people perceive attacks on the government (especially by non-Americans) as attacks on our entire way of life, our entire populace, our entire society. The way our government interacts with us, it makes sense that we would phrase this argument in terms of nations.

    To a civilian in Saudi Arabia, where the government is little more than organized nepotism among historical warlords, it makes sense that another perceived community (like say, the Wahhabi community) might be more important to them.

  106. 106
    joes527 says:

    @lacp: They didn’t hijack a single aircraft. Q.E.D.

  107. 107
    Donald says:

    “And yet America fucked up pretty much all of South America and the entire indigenous population of North America, without this kind of “blowback.” Something’s missing in that theory.”

    Aside from this simply being wrong (Native Americans did slaughter civilians in response to what whites did), it’s not clear where this is going. Sometimes our atrocities will evoke atrocities against our own people and sometimes they won’t. Does this mean we should only be concerned about our violence if it might lead to violence against us?

    Also, GG was responding to a previous argument that we had to blow people up with drones or we would face a terrorist attack here. GG’s counterargument is that our blowing people up in Yemen and Pakistan will increase the chance that we will be targeted. The friends and families of innocent victims might start siding with the terrorists.

    Well, maybe it won’t happen, but if we’re already worried about terrorists in Yemen attacking us, GG is just saying that we are doing some recruiting for them every time we blow up a wedding or a funeral.

  108. 108
    Heliopause says:

    @FlipYrWhig: @David Koch: @The Sheriff’s A Ni-:

    All three of you ignored “differing from the right wing of foreign policy elites not in principle but on tactics.”

    “But the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions — not just treaties and declarations — that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest — because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if others’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.”

    This is from Obama’s Nobel acceptance speech, and it couldn’t be clearer; global stability is thanks to American commitment to force of arms. It was perfectly in keeping with the postwar liberal vision of America’s role, actually a little refreshing in the narrow sense of being slightly more honest than most propaganda about what a peaceful and peace-loving people we are.

    Like most postwar elite liberals Obama will be more careful about when and where he asserts American power than, for instance, neoconservatives, but assert it he will and does.

  109. 109
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @lacp: Since the reservation system? There was massive violence at a lot of the contact zones between European settlers and tribal lands, I totally agree. Guerrilla wars, bloody ones on both sides. But in terms of “terrorist” style activities, according to a “blowback” hypothesis, you’d think there would have been a lot more Native American terrorism since the mid-19th century.

  110. 110
    David Koch says:

    of course, GG can not fail, he can only be failed.

  111. 111
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @joes527: OK, that was funny.

    @Roger Moore: Yes, Indian “removal” was bloody. But even though the tribes had all kinds of rightful grievances against their treatment at the hands of the American government, and _still_ have those grievances, the level of violence subsided. I’m only using that as a comparison because I think “America messes with us, we mess with America” feels more true as a rule than history suggests it has actually been.

  112. 112

    @FlipYrWhig:

    The bigger point was this. IMHO American military involvement in countries that are not America would breed “blowback” even if the only people who were ever killed or maimed were guilty.

    And, to extend the point, it would produce blowback even if we used perfect law enforcement tactics, where we captured our enemies instead of killing them and gave them all fair and public trials. We might reduce the blowback that way, but there would still be some people who refused to accept our justice and treated the guilty parties as martyrs.

  113. 113
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Heliopause: No, that’s still a difference in principle, not solely on tactics. That’s like saying Jerry Falwell and Andrea Dworkin have the same view on p0rnography and just differ about how to deal with it.

  114. 114
    Donald says:

    “of course, GG can not fail, he can only be failed.”

    Who cares if GG is perfect? Why does every criticism of US foreign policy have to turn into a debate about the merits of one of the critics? This used to happen with Chomsky–if someone ever cited him when criticizing US foreign policy in SE Asia or Central America or Israel or wherever it always turned into a debate about whether Chomsky thought this or that stupid thing. Sometimes the Chomsky critics had a point about him and sometimes they didn’t, but it never had anything to do with the moral issue at hand.

    It’s the same with GG.

    My wife wants the computer. Thank God.

  115. 115
    Maude says:

    @Stuck in the Funhouse:
    #103
    And Obama is picking them off one by one.

  116. 116
    Yutsano says:

    @gorram:

    To a civilian in Saudi Arabia, where the government is little more than organized nepotism among historical warlords, it makes sense that another perceived community (like say, the Wahhabi community) might be more important to them

    This is the problem I’m having with this thread. There is such a huge misunderstanding about the Middle East and the various Islamic societies (the Islamic world has never been a monolithic bloc) there. Everyone should at least learn about where they are talking about.

    And FTR the current Saudi ruling family is in power because of an alliance with the Wahhabi sect in the 19th century to have them be the only legal sect in KSA in exchange for the right to be the sole guardians of Mecca. So the Wahhabis are as much the government there as the royal family.

  117. 117
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Roger Moore: Right, good point. I’m more concerned with minimizing, and hopefully eliminating, deaths of innocent people; and, next, ideally, deaths of even guilty people (who should be subject to a judicial proceeding). So I would love “perfect law enforcement tactics” EVEN IF it produced blowback. Blowback is a secondary concern when stacked up against justice and human rights.

  118. 118
    joes527 says:

    @Mnemosyne: people seem to be completely hung up over the “another 9/11” I took that to simply mean another large scale attack on US soil. If we insist that he was _really_ _really_ talking about another attack just exactly precisely like Rudy’s 9/11, then of course that’s stupid. First we’d have to rebuild the twin towers then we would need to fish zombie OBL out of the ocean …

    If we assume that that isn’t what he was getting at. That he was using “another 9/11” as shorthand for something much more generic than an attack on september 11 that involves flying airliners into the WTC, then I’m not seeing what’s so controversial about what GG said. (other than the whole GG pushes this blog’s buttons thing)

    Violence begets violence. Powerlessness in the face of violence will not be borne indefinitely. It is really really dangerous to have an enemy that you have put in the position of literally having nothing (more) to lose.

    Duh.

  119. 119
    gorram says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Ah silly me, I thought we were talking about an alternative to militarily occupying other sovereign nations, not the exact means to militarily occupying them.

    I don’t think there’s that big of a difference really between having lots of soldiers on the ground (ie: OBL’s purported reason for radicalizing against the US) and waging an air war (ie: part of what allegedly prompted Serbs to burn down a US embassy a while ago). Either way, the populace gets that they’re considered subhuman “collateral damage” or “combatants”, whether they can see the people pointing the guns or not.

    Alternatively, if we’re quiet about it, we can easily destabilize governments we don’t like, frequently allowing powerful interests we do to take over (ie: Iran 1953, all over Latin America). On the other, other hand (you don’t have three hands?) we can work quite publicly if we align ourselves with a mostly-tolerated and mostly-democratic government as part of something more than just military occupation (as in most post-WWII occupations). Basically, if people don’t notice (at the time) that you’re killing them or don’t think you’re interested in killing them, they tend not to try to kill you right back.

  120. 120
    300baud says:

    @Baud:

    When one has few other options, why wouldn’t one be disproportionately likely to use “terror”? I’m sure that, e.g., the Palestinians would send tanks if they had tanks.

    I put it in quotes because I think it’s lazy to paint all asymmetric war with that. From what I’ve read, OBL’s goal wasn’t terror, it was rage strong enough to touch off a major conflict. Good thing Christians turned the other cheek and didn’t go to war, eh?

    Certainly if some group were making drone strikes against my neighbors, I’d respond by any means available to me.

  121. 121
    David Koch says:

    @Donald:

    Who cares if GG is perfect?

    Obviously you do, or you wouldn’t be so upset.

  122. 122
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    @Donald:

    Also, GG was responding to a previous argument that we had to blow people up with drones or we would face a terrorist attack here. GG’s counterargument is that our blowing people up in Yemen and Pakistan will increase the chance that we will be targeted. The friends and families of innocent victims might start siding with the terrorists.

    The reason we are still fighting and killing members of AQ, and the Taliban, is because we are at war with them, and they with us. Out in the open from both sides, with both our congress and the UN sanctioning same. People who get attacked cannot be expected to do nothing about those that attacked. Especially when they have not surrendered. No President, not Obama, nor a president Dennis Kucinich can refuse to defend the nation as directed by congress, or they would rightly be impeached and removed from office

    That said, it is a very pertinent and duty for citizens to push the government for a status on that directed war, as well as the tactics and actions conducted to prosecute it, to when the enemy can be described as defeated, and for us to stand down. That may be now, or personally, I think we are getting close to that reality.

    That is real patriotism, in my view. Not the warmongering of the wingnuts, nor the parsing and throwing up all kinds of nonsensical navel gazing flak on legality and the like from those opposed to the war, on the left, and some on the right – with endless anecdotes of the horrors of war that is inherent for such human behavior, Unless it truly is illegal actions on the ground. And those who are true pacifists, and anti war on principle, should say so loudly and proudly, all the time. And be upfront about that.

    The UN, for the first time in its history, and even before our congress passed the AUMF, dictated to its member states that they shall join in the fight against AQ and terrorism.

  123. 123
    mclaren says:

    @Metrosexual Black AbeJ:

    While we generally disagree about Greenwald, in this case an objective observer would have to conclude you’re right on this specific point.

    The weakest aspect of Greenwald’s argument here is the fact that the original 9/11 attack was allegedly prompted by the mere presence of military bases on the soil of one of our strongest allies, Saudi Arabia. That’s just crazy. Merely placing friendly military bases on the soil of an ally? And for that 19 lunatics kill 3500 Americans by blowing up 2 skyscrapers?

    Any reasonable person would have to say that Al Qaeda’s response is so bizarrely disproportionate that it’s impossible to figure out exactly why they actually launched their suicide attacks against America. And so it’s pointless to try to figure out exactly what will cause future 9/11-type attacks.

    On the other hand, Greenwald’s and Cole’s larger point stands — while we can’t reasonably say that there’s an exact one-to-one relationship between reckless American war crimes against other countries (and let’s be clear: when a country bombs and kills and murders thousands of noncombatant women and children in a foreign nation with which it’s not even at war, and continues doing it for years, that’s not war, that’s a war crime), at some point a reasonable person would have to expect that citizens of that foreign country will get fed up and start strapping on suicide bombs and trying to kill Americans.

    It’s basically Chalmers Johnson’s point, as Mnemosyne insightfully notes above. But more than that, it’s a commonsense matter of grand strategy, pointed out by John Boyd (one of America’s greatest military thinkers) in his Patterns of Conflict presentation.

    A wise grand strategy seeks to strengthen ties with allies, isolate ourselves insofar as possible from enemies, and as far as possible convert neutral nations into allies. Pro tip: you don’t convert neutral nations into allies by repeatedly murdering their noncombatant women and children day after day, week after week, year after year.

    Arguably the Germans lost WW II not because of technology or lack of resources, but simply because they created too many enemies. Eventually the whole world lined up against them. The same thing happened more recently with the apartheid government of South Africa — eventually the whole world lined up against them.

    Do we really want that to happen to America? Because the way we’re going, we’re headed right down that path. And it’s not just American cowboy militarism that’s making America repellant and loathsome to the rest of the world: we’re trying to force our crazy copyright laws on the rest of the world, and as the anti-ACTA demonstrations throughout Europe show, the rest of world won’t tolerate that. Or look at Montanto’s brutal and sadistic policy of forcing third-world farmers to buy unaffordable “terminator” seeds that produce crops whose seeds can’t be used to sow new harvests. These genetically modified crops are specially designed to force farmers to keep buying them at inflated prices, and thousands of the world’s poorest farmers are now committing suicide because they can’t afford to continue to buy these wildly overpriced genetically modified seeds.

    Or look at American big pharma companies’ decision to price our life-saving drugs out of reach for the third world. American corporations out of pure greed are condemning millions of the poorest and sickest children in the world to death. Do you think that win America friends throughout the world? Or does it makes us hated and despised?

    Or consider America’s total inaction on climate change — yet we consume enormous amounts of the world’s resources and emit far more carbon per capita than any other nation. The USA has 5% of the world’s population but we consume 24% of the world’s energy and 15% of the world’s meat and five times the per capita carbon emissions of the rest of the world, 19.8 metric tons per person compared to 3.9 metric tons of carbon per person for the rest of the world (and 1.9 metric tons of carbon per person for the developing world).

    Once again, this makes the rest of the world line up against us. It’s not just American militarism, it’s almost all of the policies of greedy rapacious American corporations and profligate American consumers and cruel American military officers who use banned weapons like white phosphorus munitions at Fallujah that burns through the skin of women and children right down to the bone. We use depleted uranium munitions against civilians. Five and half years after the American army attacked Fallujah, the cancer rate for women and children was worse than in Hiroshima.

    Do we really expect the rest of the world to look at that kind of behavior and admire and support us? Or will the rest of the rest of world begin to edge away from America with revulsion and detestation?

    That’s the larger point here, and on that score, Cole and Greenwald are exactly right.

  124. 124
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @gorram: Well, no one (here at least) likes “military occupation,” but is it true that civilian casualties produce more and worse blowback than combatant casualties? I just think this is a side issue, and the real question isn’t “what course of action in other sovereign nations produces least blowback?” but “what course of action in other sovereign nations produces the fewest civilian casualties (ideally zero) and the fewest dead American soldiers (ideally zero)?”

    And my perspective is that, to borrow some of the terms from Roger Moore above, even a perfectly executed “law enforcement” policy that had no aspects of military occupation and no civilian casualties and no American military casualties might, in fact, produce blowback — but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t adopt that policy.

    I think I’m making it needlessly complicated. That’s probably my cue to leave.

  125. 125
    tybee says:

    @FlipYrWhig: “And yet America fucked up pretty much all of South America and the entire indigenous population of North America, without this kind of “blowback.” Something’s missing in that theory.”

    don’t bet on that, paleface.

  126. 126
    dollared says:

    @middlewest: Why? What is it about the post? Some of us less bright pacifists need just a few more words to reach enlightenment.

  127. 127
    clean willie says:

    @David Koch:

    Every liberal’s favorite president LBJ killed a lot of Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians and they never bothered to attack the empire state building.

    And, oddly enough, survivors of the firebombing of Dresden never blew up Niagara Falls! And refugees from Nagasaki never set fire to the Mt. Pleasant Library. And when all the Palestinians are pushed into the sea, there will be no rocket attacks on Sderot.

    Keep these in your pocket in case you should need to justify the full-scale levelling of a country in the future. Annihilation: our best defense against terrorism!

  128. 128
    mclaren says:

    @Stuck in the Funhouse:

    The reason we are still fighting and killing members of AQ, and the Taliban, is because we are at war with them, and they with us.

    That’s nonsense. It’s flatly false.

    Ever since the treaty of Westphalia in 1648, it is a basic matter of international law that only nations can declare war, and only against other nations.

    You really need to think about what you’re saying here. If nations can declare war against non-state actors, then Germany was acting legally when it claimed it had declared war against the Jews.

    In fact, no nation can “declare war” against a group of people who are not a nation. That’s known as a crime against humanity. When Stalin rounded up the kulaks and starved 10 million of them to death in the 1930s, he claimed he was “declaring war against dissidents” but in fact he was committed a crime against humanity. The entire world condemned Stalin for it then, and still does today.

    The attack on two American skyscrapers wasn’t war, it was a crime, and it needed to be handled the same way any other crime gets handled — by the FBI.

    Riddle me this: if blowing up two American skyscrapers was a declaration of war, why wasn’t blowing up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma in 1995 a declaration of war?

    Why didn’t America declare war against the right-wing terrorists in Kansas and Oklahoma and Missouri and send F-22 fighter jets to bomb Kansas and Oklahoma and Missouri?

    You know why as well as I do. Because the people who blew up the Murrah Federal Building in 1995 in Oklahoma were criminals. Timothy McVeigh and his thug companions were tracked down and caught and tried as criminals in a court of law and sentenced to death and executed.

    That’s how we need to deal with the Al Qaeda crimes. Track them down, arrest them, try them in a court of law, execute them. This isn’t a “war.” It’s a simple matter of crime and punishment.

    Only nations can declare war, and only against other nations. If you try to argue otherwise, our whole society breaks down…because if America can declare war against some group of people who aren’t a nation, then why can’t you delcare war against your neighbor?

    Modern civilization only works because we recognize as a matter of basic law and custom that nations have a mononpoly on violence. They can only use it against other nations. When a nation uses mass violence against a group of people, isn’t not “declaring war against a group of people,” it’s called the Holocaust.

    You really really don’t want to be arguing in favor of the Holocaust.

  129. 129
    PIGL says:

    @middlewest: could you elaborate? What specific anti-war sentiments would be more effective, in your view?

  130. 130
    gorram says:

    @Yutsano: That’s the historical origin of the current government in the region, yes, but that’s not how they currently interact with the Saudi population. Once that state gained control of Mecca and Medina, strict enforcement of Wahhabi being the preferred sect loosened, especially with peripheral territory. There’s a reason there’s still a Shia minority (to say nothing of the non-Wahhabi Sunnis) in Saudi Arabia.

    By the 1970s the relationship between Wahhabi clerics and the Saudi Arabian government was extremely mixed. To this day many, arguably even most Wahhabi clerics put their weigh behind the government, yes, but clerics and leaders with origins of lower socio-economic standing (especially still nomadic origins) in the 1970s started splitting from the government, viewing it as inadequately responsive to un-Qur’anic alterations of society (including Westernization).

    Those are the events that led to the 1979 uprising where several ulema declared they had found the Mahdi, holed up with him in The Grand Mosque of Mecca, and shot everyone they considered associated with the government (police, military, etc) until they were finally flushed out a few days later. In more recent years, this rejection of the government’s “soft” Wahhabi approach has caused Saudi Arabia to have some of the most persistent problems with terrorism in the world.

  131. 131
    Baud says:

    @300baud:

    When one has few other options, why wouldn’t one be disproportionately likely to use “terror”?

    People throughout history have responded to outside forces in a number of ways, often violent. But if I recall correctly, immediately after 9-11, most Muslims were offended at what OBL had done supposedly in their name. For Greenwald to say that he’s “amazed” that Muslims haven’t used even more “terror” is, in my view, an offensive way to criticize US policy even if the underlying criticism has merit.

  132. 132
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @clean willie: Well, look, the point is that a rule stipulating that when America fucks with another country (or region, or culture, or something), it means that The People From Over There will have a “natural” desire to fuck with America… that so-called rule has some problems, because it doesn’t always hold up. It’s probably more helpful to figure out _under what conditions_ blowback happens. Or, IMHO, to forget the whole blowback hypothesis and instead focus on how civilian casualties are horrific in and of themselves and must be avoided by all available means.

  133. 133
    Mnemosyne says:

    @mclaren:

    Riddle me this: if blowing up two American skyscrapers was a declaration of war, why wasn’t blowing up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma in 1995 a declaration of war?

    Because it was done by an American citizen inside the borders of the United States and not a foreign national?

    Why didn’t America declare war against the right-wing terrorists in Kansas and Oklahoma and Missouri and send F-22 fighter jets to bomb Kansas and Oklahoma and Missouri?

    Because those crimes were committed by American citizens within the borders of the United States and not by foreign nationals?

    Seriously, if you’ve gotten to the point where it’s impossible for you to distinguish the difference between “American citizens acting on American soil” and “foreign nationals acting on American soil,” you should probably give up. You’ve completely left the real world.

    Oh, and since you’ll probably bring it up thinking it’s somehow a refutation of what I just said, al-Awlaki was an American citizen operating on foreign soil. The United States, you may be surprised to hear, is not only a different country than Yemen, it’s about 8,000 miles away from Yemen.

  134. 134
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    @mclaren:

    I’m not going to honor your brain ruptured dribblings Mclaren. You are a compete idiot with a lot of information. There is no law or rule that non state actors can’t declare war, as OBL did, in his fatwas of the late 90’s . You are arguing from some fetid pseudo intellectual fever swamp with an internet connection, that is home for you – on the dark side of the moon from the rest of society. Now go away like you were never here.

  135. 135
    mclaren says:

    @clean willie:

    You people keep conflating war and illegal unlawful war crimes.

    Let’s be clear here: America declared war against Japan. America declared war against Germany. Those nations had armies and navies and they tried to kill Americans and take over American territories, and we responded in kind.

    That’s war. People in uniforms in armies and navies and air forces killing other people in uniforms.

    But sending drones into a country you are not at war with to murder innocent noncombatant women and children day after day, week after week, year after year is not war.

    There are no American soldiers in uniform in Pakistan (or most of the other third-world countries were we deploy drones and death squads) killing other foreign soldiers in different uniforms with whom America has declared war.

    When American troops use white phosphorus shells and depleted uranium munitions against noncombatant women and children in the city of Fallujha, that is not war — it’s a crime against humanity.

    And as for the claim that there was no blowback from the American crimes against native American indians…please. People, haven’t you ever heard of the Indian Wars? Don’t you realize how many settlers were massacred by American indians during the settlement of the American plains? Haven’t you heard of George Armstrong Custer?

    The ugly truth is that American committed genocide against native American indians and we got away with it because we were stronger. That doesn’t make it right.

  136. 136
    burnspbesq says:

    @cathyx:

    Psst! Look at comment #2.

    Psst! DougJ’s trolling doesn’t count for anything.

  137. 137
    Keith G says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    And yet America fucked up pretty much all of South America and the entire indigenous population of North America, without this kind of “blowback.” Something’s missing in that theory.

    Fascinating. You do realize that the historical and cultural dissimilarities between these two groups make this comparison a bit…problematic?

  138. 138
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Donald:

    Also, GG was responding to a previous argument that we had to blow people up with drones or we would face a terrorist attack here.

    Since that was Donald Rumsfeld’s argument (“we’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here”), isn’t GG about 10 years too late with his comeback?

    I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen the Obama administration argue that we’re reducing terrorism in the US with drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but maybe you have some links.

    Again, I’m not saying that there will be no repercussions from our actions in the Middle East. I’m disputing GG’s simplistic formula that those repercussions will happen because of a desire for revenge and not because of the more complicated reasons that led to, say, the 9/11 attack.

  139. 139
    burnspbesq says:

    @mclaren:

    That’s war. People in uniforms in armies and navies and air forces killing other people in uniforms.

    By that standard, the first three years of the American Revolution weren’t a war. Your notions of what constitutes war are both legally and practically outdated.

    How would you suggest we deal with a military force that doesn’t wear uniforms, in violation of the Geneva Conventions, and embeds itself in the civilian population, again in violation of the Geneva Conventions?

  140. 140
    Yutsano says:

    @gorram: You do still realize the Wahhabi sect still controls a vast part of Saudi life correct? And that even non-Wahhabi sects are subject to Wahhabi interpretation under Saudi law? There is looser structure on the edges of the country sure, but the KSA is not a loose society. And the incident in Mecca was part of a larger movement in the Middle East that had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is Egyptian. The Wahhabis are still firmly entrenched in Saudi society.

  141. 141
    Joey Giraud says:

    @mclaren:

    McClaren, you are completely correct here, but are in a severe minority.

    The Stuck one is full of bull here, but he has plenty of company.

    His whole attitude, too common in America, of “we don’t need no stinking standards, ethics or laws! We wuz attacked!” makes me sick in it’s blindness and ignorance.

  142. 142
    300baud says:

    @Baud:

    I don’t see it as offensive. If I had family members killed like that, I would definitely consider retaliation by any means available to me. So I’m amazed that the people involved haven’t done more in response. What’s wrong with saying so?

  143. 143
    burnspbesq says:

    @mclaren:

    Why didn’t America declare war against the right-wing terrorists in Kansas and Oklahoma and Missouri and send F-22 fighter jets to bomb Kansas and Oklahoma and Missouri?

    The F-22 didn’t go into service until 2005, you numbskull. If you’re going to make a stupid argument, at least get your facts straight.

  144. 144
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    @Joey Giraud:

    The Stuck one is full of bull here, but he has plenty of company.

    I like the company I’m in. You and mclaren should be happy together. But I’d sleep with one eye open, if I was you. jus sayin’

  145. 145
    clean willie says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    It’s probably more helpful to figure out under what conditions blowback happens.

    Agreed. I was suggesting that said conditions are something between covert meddling a la Latin America and full-scale military decimation a la SE Asia.

    Or, IMHO, to forget the whole blowback hypothesis and instead focus on how civilian casualties are horrific in and of themselves and must be avoided by all available means.

    I think calling attention to the blowback hypothesis is itself one “available means.” I.e. if it were widely accepted it would extinguish public support for civilian attacks.

  146. 146
    mclaren says:

    @Stuck in the Funhouse:

    You’re as ignorant as you are incompetent. The evidence is clear and unmistakable: for the last three centuries, sovereign states have a legal monopoly on the use of violence.

    See, for example, Mercenaries, Pirates, and Sovereigns: State-Building and Extraterritorial Violence in Early Modern Europe by Janice E. Thomson, Princeton University Press: Princeton: 1996.

    As professor Thomson points out, “the present arrangement of the world into violence-monopolizing sovereign states evolved over the six preceding centuries.”

    This has been recognized by international courts many times. Most recently

    Crimes against humanity, as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum, “are particularly odious offenses in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings. They are not isolated or sporadic events, but are part either of a government policy (although the perpetrators need not identify themselves with this policy) or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority.

    Source: “crimes against humanity,” wikipedia.

    Obama’s and Bush’s use of drones constitutes a crime against humanity. Both presidents’ use of assassination squads is also a crime against humanity. The use of military forces against civilians, as at Fallujah, is a crime against humanity. This is a matter of settled law and has been since the Nuremberg Trials.

  147. 147
    Baud says:

    @300baud:

    If I had family members killed like that, I would definitely consider retaliation by any means available to me. So I’m amazed that the people involved haven’t done more in response. What’s wrong with saying so?

    Saying “I’m amazed that the people involved haven’t done more” carries in my opinion a different connotation than saying “I’m amazed that the people involved haven’t committed another 9/11,” especially if (if I’m correct) the people at issue were mostly offended that 9/11 was done in their name.

  148. 148
    burnspbesq says:

    @mclaren:

    That’s how we need to deal with the Al Qaeda crimes. Track them down, arrest them, try them in a court of law, execute them. This isn’t a “war.

    Oddly enough, neither al-Qaeda nor the Talbian are likely to agree with you that their struggle against what they view to be the illegitimate Afghan government and its NATO allies isn’t a war. Article I of Protocol 1 of the Geneva Conventions defines “armed conflict against colonial domination and foreign occupation” as international armed conflict, within the meaning of Common Article 2. If the laws of war apply, how is it not a war?

  149. 149
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @mclaren:
    @burnspbesq: Countries had to deal with outlaw groups such as pirates following the Peace of Westphalia. Fighting them was not a war crime or crime against humanity.

  150. 150
    Michael Finn says:

    @mclaren:

    You know, I could get behind an attempt to end the drone attacks because I consider them counterproductive at this stage.

    But frankly, you are so offensive in your attempts to tell us why they are so wrong and how evil everybody else is that I have to wonder if the other side has a point.

  151. 151
    Fluke bucket says:

    I would bet that more innocent civilians would die In a conventionally declared war against the country of Pakistan than are being killed now in this war against non-state sanctioned combatants.

  152. 152
    Keith G says:

    @David Koch:

    Every liberal’s favorite president LBJ killed a lot of Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians and they never bothered to attack the empire state building.

    Would those be the same liberals who chanted, “Hey hey LBJ….” and voted for Eugene McCarthy?

    As I said elsewhere, you really need to make allowances for different cultures and different times in history.

    For all the Iraqis Bush and John Edwards murdered, there hasn’t been one Iraqi citizen who has attempted to attack the brooklyn bridge.

    But many scores have chosen to make themselves weapons killing hundreds of westerners including US soldiers and civilians. I wouldn’t be so quick to discount the actions of those martyrs.

    I am surprised at so many of y’all here. The basic notion that our actions in the Middle East have caused, and will cause, violent reaction is rather mainstream. It has been talked about by significant writers, diplomats, and politicians for well over a decade. Before Obama became president, it was an article of faith among Democrats criticizing Bush/Cheney.

    Funny how that works.

    Such pretzel-like contortions many of you put yourself into.

  153. 153
    mclaren says:

    @burnspbesq:

    By that standard, the first three years of the American Revolution weren’t a war.

    Exactly right. For the first three years, the American colonists were engaged in (gasp!) terrorism against the British.

    America is a nation created by terrorists. That’s just one of the reasons why it’s so insanely hypocritical fro Americans to become hysterical and launch our entire military at a few terrorists. The other reason, of course, is that American terrorists successfully forced the British military out of North America. The same results have generally proven true for most instances of terrorism since the 18th century. Most of the time, the terrorists win. There are a few exceptions, like Malaysia, but most of the time, the terrorists win when organized armies try to wipe them out. This should have taught us that aside from being grossly illegal, using the organized military forces of a nation-state against terrorists is a really bad idea because it only makes the terrorists stronger and destroys the legitimacy of the nation-state.

    As the historian Martin van Creveld has pointed out, using the military forces of a nation-state to kill terrorists puts the nation-state in the position of a grown man beating up a child. It destroys the moral legitimacy of the nation-state. The way to deal with terrorism is as a police matter.

    Your notions of what constitutes war are both legally and practically outdated.

    Thank you for demonstrating your usual ignorance of the law. As a tax avoidance lawyer, we would expect you to show the utmost incompetence in this area, and you have not disappointed us. The Rome statue of the International Criminal Court as well as the verdicts of the Nuremberg war crimes trials have amply specified exactly what war is, and what it is not.

    How would you suggest we deal with a military force that doesn’t wear uniforms, in violation of the Geneva Conventions, and embeds itself in the civilian population, again in violation of the Geneva Conventions?

    Thank you once again for showing your incompetence at debate by falling into the classic petitio principii fallacy, better known as the fallacy of “begging the question.” As you should know (but are too incompetent to realize), begging the question involves asserting a proposition whose proof is contained in the proposition itself. In this case, you fall into this age-old fallacy by asking “How would you suggest we deal with a military force…”

    19 guys in civilian clothes who takes over two airplanes are not a “military force.” They’re criminals. You deal with criminals the way Americans have always dealt with criminals — using the FBI. Did you know that the FBI has a 96.4% conviction rate of the cases it investigated last year?

    So let’s turn it around and see if you can answer this one — if my definition of war is so “legally outdated,” then why are 19 people in 2001 “a military force” but the 4 people who acted together to blow up the Murrah Federal Building in 1995 weren’t a “military force”?

    The law is clear on this point. If a group of people don’t belong to the army of a sovereign state, they’re not a military force. End of discussion. You deal with violence by people who are not part of the army of a sovereign state the way you deal with any crime — using the FBI and the police.

  154. 154
    Yutsano says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Hell where do people think the Marines come from? The colonies needed an organized anti-piracy force. And the Navy wasn’t formally organized until the early 19th century. I guess under this logic they started as war criminals.

  155. 155
    clean willie says:

    @Michael Finn:

    You know, I could get behind an attempt to end the drone attacks because I consider them counterproductive at this stage.

    Hmmm, what was it someone said about the banality of something?

    But frankly, you are so offensive in your attempts to tell us why they are so wrong and how evil everybody else is that I have to wonder if the other side has a point.

    Jeez … One thing about these guys, they’re not shy about descending into utter ridiculousness. Cool it, maclaren, or the sock puppet won’t like you!

  156. 156

    @Heliopause:

    Fact is, Obama buys fully into the bipartisan elite consensus that the US is to dominate the world through violence and intimidation.

    Suggestion: Cut up your sentence into individual words. Print each word on a ping pong ball. Put all the ping pong balls into a big, rotatable basket with a crank on one end.

    Now, for the fun part… Crank. Rotate. Spin. Now pull out a ping pong ball.

    Repeat this process until you have enough words for a reasonably coherent sentence.

    Now, post and publish.

    Voila! Instant Ratfucker :)

    Race you to the patent office, bro…

  157. 157
    mclaren says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    You point out that fighting pirates was not a war crime or a crime against humanity.

    Exactly right, and a very good point. It was a police matter.

    How did nation-states deal with piracy?

    Typically, by capturing the pirates and executing them. Note that pirates were typically tried in a court of law and executed.

    Moreover, the definition of the term “pirate” supports my claim and (as we would expect from the shocking ignorance and gross incompetence of the inept tax avoidance lawyer burnspbesq) contradicts yours:

    A pirate is a robber who travels by water.

    Robbery, as you might have guessed, is a crime. It is not an act of war.

    When the police sound an APB for a robber, the police are not declaring war. Burnspbesq is of course too ingnorant of the law and far too incompetent as a lawyer to realize this, but everyone else with common sense does.

  158. 158
    gorram says:

    @Yutsano:

    And the incident in Mecca was part of a larger movement in the Middle East that had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is Egyptian.

    Yes, they had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic organizations outside of Saudi Arabia, because they were essentially an underground resistance group within Saudi Arabia. Their primary clerical and military leader was Juhayman, a Saudi citizen who primarily recruited other Saudi citizens. The movement, if you could call it one, was a response to the actions of the Saudi government, working primarily within Saudi territory, to enact social changes that would have replaced the Saudi state. This was a movement formed within the Wahhabi thought that’s come to dominate Saudi Arabia.

    That being said, as I originally pointed out to Mnemosyne, yes, it sought contacts outside of Saudi Arabia and posited a different national community than the one created by the Saudi government. It translated earlier Wahhabi thought on conflict into an idiom of asymmetrical, stateless warfare. Arguably it was the organizational model for Osama bin Laden’s earliest organization within Saudi Arabia which famously entrenched itself in external conflicts (like the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan). The political organization that created the 1979 crisis helped broaden what it could mean to be Wahhabi. It was the beginning of a more organized and persistent rejection of the state’s interpretation of those religious beliefs, part of which was the rejection of a state-based model of government.

    The Wahhabis are still firmly entrenched in Saudi society.

    You’re speaking as if there are a single group of Wahhabis. That’s not how it is, frankly. There’s a more “moderate” (if still very strict) branch of the sect in control of the Saudi Arabian state, which has been repeatedly targeted for violence by other Wahhabis who view it as having betrayed the tenets of Wahhabism. The former is pretty tightly associated with the KSA, as you rightly point out, but the latter is fiercely opposed to the current government and (as you also mentioned) sees itself as representing a Muslim community that isn’t bound by the limits of Saudi Arabia.

  159. 159
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @mclaren: Oh dear lord.

  160. 160
    samuel says:

    @Stuck in the Funhouse: speaking of dipshits. Are you like Howie Mandel except instead of have a germ phobia yours is people linking to you on blog comments.

    GFYS you clown.

  161. 161
    burnspbesq says:

    @mclaren:

    I suppose I will have to wait a very long time before you actually respond to an argument I actually make, instead of constructing shit out of whole cloth and pretending I wrote it. I’m sure it was fully obvious to everyone other than you that the words “military force that doesn’t wear uniforms” in my comment 139 meant the al-Qaeda and Taliban forces that are engaged in combat in Afghanistan. But that wouldn’t give you a strawman to attack, so you just made up a bunch of shit.

    Until you figure out what it means to argue in good faith and act accordingly, I’m done with you. Your intellectual dishonesty is mind-boggling. And I’ve never attacked you personally, the way you can’t help but doing. But I will now.

    You’re a miserable piece of shit.

  162. 162
    mclaren says:

    @clean willie:

    Actually, I applaud you — and quite sincerely. People really should strive to see if the other side has a point. Descending into mindless partisanship, in which anyone whose opinion differs from you must be condemned as not only wrong but evil, is the path the Republicans have taken. And I think that path has destroyed conservatism.

    Let me be clear here. People like Omnes Omnibus and Mnemosyne do have the core of a valid point, and when they make it they’re insightful. Clearly we have to do something about terrorism, because recent history shows that technological advacement has placed exponentially increasing power to do violence in the hands of an increasing small group of people. In fact, someday in the near future I expect some brilliant terrorist gene-hacker to do something truly diabolical, like download the smallpox virus and recombing its RNA with the worst parts of a filovirus like Ebola or Marpurg and then finding a way of loading it into a rhinovirus coating and then generating the virus using a tabletop DNA sequencer. That would be a true nightmare.

    So the people are arguing for the kind of massive overreaction we’ve seen from Bush and Obama against the terrorsts have the germ of a very valid point — we really do need to so something serious to thwart terrorism, because technology has so super-empowered the violent individual that we are facing some very scary prospects if nation-states don’t mobilize against terrorism on a large scale.

    However, where it’s pretty clear that Bush and Obama and the people arguing in favor of the massive overreactions we’ve seen since 9/11 are going wrong is that nation-states are going way overboard. We are using our military, which is a blunt instrument and is mainly useful for killing large numbers of people indiscriminately and blowing lots of stuff up. When you need to kill or capture criminals, you need to use police, not the military.

    More importantly, we need to act against terrorism in different ways than we have been. We need to act against terrorism by using intelligence sources, by doing what good police do — preventive measures, intervention, community policing, looking out for suspicious behavior. Most of the wildly overreactive measures America is using against terrorism right now are counterproductive. Everyone is familiar with how crazy American anti-terrorist measures are: Bruce Schneier has pointed this out again and again.

    It’s security theater, not actual anti-terrorism and certainly not intelligent policing. We try to prevent a threat that has already been identified, instead of identifying behaviors that are dangerous and identifying weak points that are dangerous and eliminating those.

    As Bruce Schneir has pointed our again and again (and he’s one of the world’s foremost experts on security), the only American response to 9/11 that had any impact at all on deterring terrorism against Americans was to strengthen the cabin doors of aircraft so that terrorists can’t break through.

    Think about it, folks. The single most valuable and most formidable resource America has against terrorism is its own citizens with cellphones.

    Americans are now alert. We don’t need to turn America into a police state and we certainly don’t need to bomb innocent women and children in third-world countries to prevent terrorism. All we need is what we’ve already got: alert U.S. citizens with cellphones who will contact the police as soon as they spot something that looks suspicious.

    Ask yourself: how was the shoe bomber stopped?

    By the other passengers on the plane who grabbed him and wrestled him to the ground. Not by the U.S. military, not by UAV drones, not by American assassination teams murdering kids in third-world countries. By American citizens who were alert and grabbed the guy.

    How was the attempting Times Square bombing thwarted? By the CIA? By the Pentagon’s JSOC team of elite sniper assassins?

    No, but a citizen who noticed something fishy and called the cops on his cellphone.

    We don’t need to send the American military out to kill noncombatant women and children all over the world to thwart terrorism on American soil — all we need is what we’ve already got, an alert citizenry with cellphones.

  163. 163
    gorram says:

    @mclaren:

    You point out that fighting pirates was not a war crime or a crime against humanity.
    Exactly right, and a very good point.

    This is correct.

    It was a police matter.

    This is incorrect. Piracy was an individual or group of individuals exercising powers (namely, disrupting national trade) reserved for states at war according to the then newly expanding European empires. States were, in response, permitted to intervene militarily against pirates. Arguably it was a criminal matter, but acts of piracy were seen as war crimes – crimes so severe that even military force was justified against them, and even beyond national jurisdiction.

    What little I could find in terms of sources to back me on this in the last couple of minutes: here.

  164. 164
    mclaren says:

    @burnspbesq:

    As a typical failed lawyer and incompetent legal mind, we would expect you to descend into foul-mouthed obscenities, and of course you have not disappointed us.

    As Lycoleon said of Charmides: “You never fail to display the utmost littleness of mind.”

    …I’m done with you.

    Really? Yippee! The failed incompetent lawyer runs away whimpering like a little girl. Just what we’ve come to expect from you.

    Your intellectual dishonesty is mind-boggling.

    Coming from a tax avoidance lawyer, that’s rich. Thanks for giving us all a belly-laugh, kiddo.

  165. 165
    gorram says:

    That said, while true that piracy has historically been treated as a war crime, that’s not a really strong argument that terrorism should be fought with war crimes.

  166. 166

    @mclaren:

    But sending drones into a country you are not at war with to murder innocent noncombatant women and children day after day, week after week, year after year is not war.

    It depends on if you mark the drones with your insignia or not.

    Which the USAF does.

    The drone vs unmanned distinction is… well, stupid. In WW2, we dropped a ton of explosives from the back of a plane and hoped it hit you. Then we got cruise missiles, which could fly to a specific point. Now we have remotely piloted drones.

    What is the difference? In every case, you’ve made a machine, to kill. Someone gives the order.

    If you don’t like the policy, then argue against the policy. Argue against the order.

    But obsessing about the instrument accomplishes what, exactly?

  167. 167

    @mclaren:

    But sending drones into a country you are not at war with to murder innocent noncombatant women and children day after day, week after week, year after year is not war.

    It depends on if you mark the drones with your insignia or not.

    Which the USAF does.

    The drone vs unmanned distinction is… well, stupid. In WW2, we dropped a ton of explosives from the back of a plane and hoped it hit you. Then we got cruise missiles, which could fly to a specific point. Now we have remotely piloted drones.

    What is the difference? In every case, you’ve made a machine, to kill. Someone gives the order.

    If you don’t like the policy, then argue against the policy. Argue against the order.

    But obsessing about the instrument accomplishes what, exactly?

  168. 168

    Ugh. Apologies for the double post. Feel free to nix one.

  169. 169
    mclaren says:

    @gorram:

    Arguably it was a criminal matter…

    Don’t you love it when people who try to claim I’m wrong unwittingly prove my point and confirm all my arguments in their failed rebuttals?

    Yes, we both agree, [piracy was a criminal matter. It was nothing more than terrorism on the high seas during the 17th and 18th and 19th centuries. Pirates were dealt with by the navy because police didn’t have ships able to travel that far, and the evidence that piracy was universally regarded as a crime rather than an act of war is overwhelming: when captured, pirates were always put on trial.

    You’re also missing the larger point here. It’s easy to get dumb like burnspbesq and descend into mindless minutia (that’s the burnspbesq lawyerly approach and it’s limitlessly foolish because it ignores the forest for the trees) — but what we really need to bear in mind is the excellent point Mnemosyne and others (including Chalmers Johnson, Martin van Creveld, William S. Lind and, yes, sane conservatives like Conor Friedersdorf) have made.

    Namely, that using a brutal blunt instrument like the American military with its fleets of bombers and thousands of UAV drones and hundreds of thousands cluster bombs and artillery shells to deal with what is essentially a police problem only serves to kill lots of innocent civilians and in turn produce eventual blowback.

    Incidentally, I’m a little surprised that no one has remarked on this, but the guy who tried to bomb Times Square, Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad, explicitly said that he was motivated by indiscriminate U.S. military murders of moslems in places like Pakistan.

    These strikes in Pakistan as you said in your report are clearly illegal, but what is really important here is that the US is actually killing people in Pakistan without even knowing their identity and they want the rest of the world and the people in the US to feel that they are making them safer by killing people whose identity is not even known to them, let alone their culpability.

    Now, if you look at the figures – so far there have been more than 326 drone strikes in Pakistan having killed more than 3,000 people.

    And out of these 3,000 people, the high-value targets i.e. the whole justification on which the US relies is only 38. The names of known militants killed, and this is just the names given by CIA or American officials that their culpability is not beyond reasonable doubt yet, but let’s believe that what the US or CIA is saying is right, that number is only 186.

    Source: Iranian press interview with Pakistani human rights activist Mirza Shahzad Akbar, Director, Foundation for Fundamental Rights, Islamabad.

    Here’s a sincere and absolutely honest question for you: suppose the 19 9/11 hijackers had said “Look, sure we killed 3500 people in the Twin Towers — but we identified 38 people who were actively plotting to do us harm in Saudi Arabia. So our murder of 3500 people on 9/11 is justified.”

    Wouldn’t you as an America be outraged and disgusted?

    Wouldn’t you dismiss that kind of grotesque casuisitical rationalization out of hand?

    Wouldn’t you be appalled at the callousness and utter disregard for human life embodied in that statement?

    Now ask yourself — what is the difference between such a claim, and the claims Bush and Obama have made about murdering a equivalent number of innocent civilians (3800 in Pakistan alone!) indiscriminately with drones in order to “get” a tiny handful of alleged “scary people” who MIGHT present a danger sometime in the future?

  170. 170
    joes527 says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Psst! DougJ’s trolling doesn’t count for anything.

    Bullshit.

    DougJ’s trolling is a work of art.

  171. 171
    Cromagnon says:

    Have no fear all you Greenwaldites… Once RMoney is elected president we will have peace on earth and prosperity for all. And then we can try the evil war-criminal Obama for crimes against humanity

  172. 172
    mclaren says:

    @Judas Escargot, Your Postmodern Neighbor:

    The drone vs unmanned distinction is… well, stupid.

    This sounds like a good point, but actually I don’t think it is. And I think if you contemplate it for a moment, you’ll agree that the distinction, far from being “stupid,” is enormously important.

    You see, a drone has a crappy TV camera mounted on it. And it’s being manned by some shlub sitting in an air conditioned barracks out in Arizona or California. And the big problem with these goddamn drones is that you get this blurry crappy picture on a computer screen, and you can’t tell what the hell it is. Wow! That looks like a guy with a AK-47! Wait, it’s a bunch of guys with AK-47s! Terrorists! Kill ’em! So the shlub with the joystick launches a Hellfire missiles and blows up…

    …A wedding party.

    Those weren’t AK-47s, they were flowers. But that crappy shitty drone camera didn’t show that.

    This is the big problem with robot warfare. The goddamn machines always blow up the wrong targets. It’s really amazing to me that the people who are interact on this forum, on computers that bluescreen and freeze and lock up all the time, are actually trying to argue that it makes good sense to entrust the power of life and death to what is essentially a goddamn flying computer.

    Computers fuck up all the time.

    C’mon, you know what I’m saying is true here. How often do you guys fume and rage about the screwed-up spam filter on this site and how it eats your posts?

    Well, that screwed-up spam filter is just a piece of software running on a computer — exactly like that drone is basically a giant computer with software running on it. And I know something about software…enough to guarantee you that it always crashes, it always screws up. And this happens all the time on those goddamn drones.

    So, no, I don’t think the distinction is dumb at all. In fact, I think it’s crucial. An unmanned drone makes is much much much easier to blow up wedding parties, because the drone is an unmanned piece-of-crap computer with a crumby camera and the operator is thousands of miles away and he can’t really see shit. All the drone operator can do is guess. And when you’re talking about killing women and children, sorry — guessing and squinting at some damn blurry camera picture on a computer screen really doesn’t cut it.

  173. 173
    mclaren says:

    @Cromagnon:

    Once RMoney is elected president we will have peace on earth and prosperity for all. And then we can try the evil war-criminal Obama for crimes against humanity.

    This does encapsulate our dilemma. Obama is clearly committing war crimes, but Romney has announced he intends to “triple Guantanamo” and hints at launching a war of aggression against Iran.

    American democracy is pretty much toast. Stick a fork in it, we’re done. The rule of law has basically gone away.

  174. 174

    @mclaren:

    Computers fuck up all the time.

    You type remarkably fast for a human.

    No drone currently fielded makes its own decision to fire. There’s still a human involved. It will hopefully be that way for a long time.

    But I still fail to see the distinction between “crappy camera” or “crappy binoculars” or “crappy GPS reading”. You’re still arguing against the instrument used by the decision maker.

    That’s distinct from moral intent. If you go for that sort of thing.

  175. 175
    kindness says:

    We’re all cafeteria agreers/disagreers.

    I pick out some things Greenwald says and agree with them fully.
    I think the US foreign policy/military adventurism does cause some foreigners to despise the US.

    It’s normal. It isn’t just normal, it’s better. Why swallow a full pack of bs dogma when there are really only a few morsels of goodness. Don’t toss the goodness, keep it. It’s OK.

    And….the over the top treatment of others on the thread….Jesus, I mean I do it too but it isn’t any more attractive on me than any one else. Get over your bad selves. It isn’t nearly as witty as you might think.

  176. 176
    Donald says:

    Mnemosyne–

    GG was responding to Andrew Sullivan–

    andrew sullivan

    But anyway, yeah, I thought everyone took it for granted that when Obama targets real or alleged Al Qaeda terrorists in Yemen the argument is that he is doing it to protect Americans. So no, I don’t have links–it didn’t occur to me that anyone disputed that this was the rationale.

  177. 177
    mclaren says:

    @Judas Escargot, Your Postmodern Neighbor:

    You’re making another good point. “Crappy binoculars” is just as bad as a crappy camera. The point you raise here is that it’s a really bad idea to do targeting killings in any form.

    It’s a bad idea because in order to fight terrorism effectively, you need to have excellent humint (human intelligence — agents on the ground who know the local village and everyone in it, and who’s the scary guy and who isn’t). And America just doesn’t have good humint.

    America for the last 30 years has preferred to spend its intelligence budget on big hoking satellites and IR scanners and all that techno-crap instead of humint.

    To do this kind of anti-terrorism police work effectively, we need to have much better humint, and we need to stop relying on machines. That’s a point Chuck Spinney has made repeatedly, if you’re familiar with him. A lot of the military reformers are making this point, and it’s a good one. America needs to stop obsessing over military techno-gadgets as the “solution” to terrorism and start dealing with human beings (good policemen, good detectives, good intelligence analysts, good people on the scene in Pakistan who know the terrain and the local population intimately and who speak the language) as a way of thwarting terrorism.

    That’s my larger point, and I think it’s valid. Other folks, like security expert Bruce Schneier, have made the same point, so once again I’m not alone here.

  178. 178
    mclaren says:

    @Donald:

    And, you know, I think the larger issue here is that the real motivation for our miltiary and anti-terror forces to keep on with these indiscriminate kills is that they need to be seen as doing something in order to keep their jobs.

    And that’s a totally rotten motivation. It’s basically a cover-your-ass reason for doing things. “Sure, killing a bunch of innocent kids and women in Pakistan is useless and counterproductive, but if we don’t do it, our political opponents will call us “weak on terror” and we’ll lose the next election.”

    Ugh.

  179. 179
    jbilger says:

    He forgot -‘torturing’ Very important.

  180. 180
    Donald says:

    “Who cares if GG is perfect?”–Me

    “Obviously you do, or you wouldn’t be so upset.” David Koch

    This is childish. Anyone can make good points on some issues and be wrong on others. I don’t think GG was right on Citizens United, for instance. I get upset, as you put it, when a serious criticism of American violence is trivialized by making it about the virtues or lack thereof of one person.

  181. 181

    @mclaren:
    I have no arguments against ‘humint’. That wasn’t the topic. I was arguing against the false distinction of drones vs manned weapons.

    […]security expert Bruce Schneier[…]

    Are you him?

  182. 182
    Donald says:

    ““Sure, killing a bunch of innocent kids and women in Pakistan is useless and counterproductive, but if we don’t do it, our political opponents will call us “weak on terror” and we’ll lose the next election.”–Mclaren

    I think that’s basically right. In a related vein I also think the reason Obama didn’t go after the Bush war criminals and Susan Rice said there was no evidence of Israeli war crimes in Gaza is because Western politicians and national security bureaucrats in general don’t want to set a precedent where a Western official (as opposed to some low-level grunt) could be accused of war crimes and brought into court. If it happened to Bush or his group then it could happen to Obama, and as for Israel, their reasoning when they bomb people isn’t very different from the notion that any military aged male killed by one of our drone strikes was a “militant” unless proven otherwise. The Republicans and Democrats have important differences–I’m not one to deny that–but on some issues they are uneasy allies.

  183. 183
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    test

  184. 184
    mclaren says:

    @Judas Escargot, Your Postmodern Neighbor:

    With respect, I do think humint vs elint is very much the topic here. The entire “war of terror” as prosecuted by Americans involves:

    [1] Use elint to identify “probably targets”
    [2] Put fire on target
    [3] Repeat

    This is useless for 3 important reasons. First, elint is crap compared to humint so we constantly wind up “putting fire on target” on wedding parties. That breeds more terrorists. Instead of solving the problem of terrorism, it makes the problem worse.

    Second: the entire procedure of “putting fire on target” is a bad idea. As I’ve pointed out, this is a military solution, and it’s as bad an idea as if the police were to use artillery to blow up a city block where they had identified a bank robber as hiding out.

    Third (and I think this is perhaps the most important point of all) there’s no exit condition. The “war on terror” is very unlike a real war because wars end.

    What is the victory condition in the War on Terror? When do we stop blowing up innocent women and children by mistake in third world countries like Pakistan?

    It seems obvious to me that we’re just going to go on and on and on. We’re going to expand these “targeted killings” which aren’t actually, you know, targeted. Basically, America is declaring war against the entire world.

    That’s insane. And it’s going to eventually make an enemy of every other nation on earth if we don’t stop this craziness.

    I think all of these points specifically relate to the unmanned drone issue you brought up. Unmanned vs manned vehicles: UAVs are much cheaper and if shot down no loss of life, so it’s much easier to put ’em up, and since they’re cheaper we put up much more of ’em. So using UAVs automatically both vastly widens and infinitely extends the War on Terror. Bad idea.

    Putting fire on target creates blowback and as I’ve pointed out, UAVs makes it easier to put fire on target for longer periods. UAVs can hover for days, pilots in jets need a target they can hit in a few minutes. Much more opportunity to “put fire on target” which in turns means lots more dead wedding parties with drones.

    Doing it repeatedly is obviously much easier with UAVs than with jets, so I think that applies too.

    So I really do think the issue of manned vs unmanned is crucial here.

    A larger issue we could grapple with is the fact that the whole “war on terror” is basically Napoleonic-era 2nd generation warfare and it’s totally obsolete. 3rd generation warfare, maneuver war, superseded 2nd Gen warfare in the 1920s and by the late 1940s 4th gen warfare (insurgency, guerilla warfare, whatever you want to call it) superseded 3rd gen warfare. So America’s entire tactical methodology for dealing with terrorism is grotesquely obsolete, at least 90 years out of date.

    Gussying up absurdly obsolete military tactics with 21st-century whizbang technology like UAVs is like adding nuclear power to a buggy whip — not useful.

  185. 185
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Donald:

    GG was responding to Andrew Sullivan

    Ah, okay, that helps explain why GG’s argument is so fucked up. Rule One: Never respond to Andrew “Fifth Columnists” Sullivan on this kind of stuff because, while he’s finally been convinced that the Iraq War was poorly run, he’s still working on comprehending the idea that invading other countries on false pretenses is inherently bad.

    I think the current strategy in Af/Pak is to destroy as many Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters as possible to try and stabilize the region. I think it’s fair to argue that it’s hard to stabilize a region that you’re dropping bombs onto, but I think the rationale has evolved past what Rumsfeld originally stated (ie “fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here”).

  186. 186
    mclaren says:

    It’s probably pointless to debunk Mnemosyne’s claim that the big important difference twixt the Murrah Federal Building bombing in 1995 was that the bombers were U.S. citizens while the 9/11 hijackers weren’t U.S. citizens, so clearly and obviously if they were foreigners they were at war with us, while if they were fellow U.S. citizens, their attack couldn’t possibly constitute a state of war…

    Wow.

    Talk about dense.

    So when the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter, that wasn’t a war, right, Mnemosyne? Because they were fellow U.S. citizens.

    Good thinking there, skippy.

    Turn it around and it becomes equally absurd: if foreigners visiting the U.S. on visas rob an American bank that must be an act of war.

    Genius.

  187. 187
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Keith G: Well, if there is a General Theory of Blowback, wouldn’t it predict that South American leftists would be plotting to blow up the School of the Americas by now? And yet, they don’t. No Ojibwe are loading up Ryder trucks with fertilizer to teach the Americans a lesson they’ll never forget. Why not? Who has greater grounds for retaliatory violence against Uncle Sam? So… Why does blowback only apply in the Middle East and North Africa, and only then if you let your vision go slightly out of focus like you’re doing a Magic Eye optical illusion poster, so that Saudis flying planes on 9/11 becomes revenge for propping up Mubarak and the Shah? I think it’s an appealing theory that feels like common sense, but it doesn’t seem to have a lot of predictive power.

  188. 188
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @FlipYrWhig: And that’s why I think it makes more sense to say simply that civilian casualties are horrific and shameful and that the US should be instinctively skeptical and humble before taking up arms abroad — rather than getting tied up in a theory about retaliation, chickens coming home to roost, etc.

  189. 189
    karen says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    THANK YOU!

    I want to have your baby!

    Seriously, YES, Obama said what he was going to do. Anyone who did their research knew who Obama was and voted for what Obama was based on his RECORD.

    I hate war as much as everyone else but let’s be real here:

    If GG and his people are claiming that if we just left all those countries, they wouldn’t strike against us and war would be over are either lying to make their point or are being willfully oblivious.

    1. The OBLs and Sadam Husseins of the world hate us because we support Israel. PERIOD.
    And before anyone accuses me of anti-semitism, I’m Jewish so try again.

    2. They want a holy war. So even if we weren’t there, they’d be against us and would be out to kill us because we are NOT LIKE THEM.

    3. At least Obama knew where to go and who to take out. Iraq was a chance for Shrub to make up for his daddy leaving Iraq without “winning.” Iraq was a fucking waste of time that killed people needlessly. Sorry but Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia would be against us regardless of if we were there or not.

    I’m not saying we’re blameless. But using simplistic answers like “They hate us because we have drones there” proves that you don’t care about what led us to use those drones and why we’re there.

  190. 190
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @karen: Or, to put it another way, I’m sure that drone attacks make people hate us, but stopping the drone attacks won’t stop the already-present hatred, either. There are good reasons not to get involved in things, but once you’re involved in them, getting uninvolved responsibly isn’t as easy as just stopping.

  191. 191
    the farmer says:

    John Cole – Our mere presence in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War I years was what helped to radicalize Osama bin Laden.

    John Cole #26 – Yes, there were multiple reasons for why he did what he did, but we are supposed to just ignore his stated reasons, which were sanctions on Iraq, our presence in Saudi Arabia, and our support for Israel?

    Stuck In The Funhouse #36 -… his main objective was to overthrow Arab governments, with Islamic ones, presumably with him in charge.

    Stuck in the Funhouse is correct about that. For example: Bin Laden wanted to lead a war against the Iraqi’s (following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait) and spoke publically about it in Saudi Arabia as well as lobbying the Saudi Royal family with his plans to raise a mujahedin army – similar to the fighters who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan. At about the same time (1990) bin Laden had been plotting and funding a guerilla war effort against the Soviet backed government of South Yemen. When his offer to lead an invasion force against Iraq was rejected by the Saudi government (he didn’t have the resources to fight the Iraqi’s and the Saudi government knew it) he complained about the presence of American forces being invited into a Muslim country to do the job. Bin Laden wanted a fundamentalist Islamic government in Iraq. After Bin Laden was refused by the Saudi gov he became incressingly belligerent and anti-american as well as anti-Saudi. Bin Laden wasn’t so much angry that Americans would be allowed to kill Iraqis as he was angry that he and his mujahedin wouldn’t be allowed to kill Iraqis who – under the leadership of Saddam Hussein’s secular government – he considered infidels. These are the kinds of mere details people like Glenn Greenwald leave aside. Probably because Greenwald doesn’t have any interest in nuances and details. Its all just bumpersticker bluster to Greenwald.

    #68 – Please. If it weren’t for U.S. military exploits throughout the region lasting decades, OBL would have had about 2 followers.

    That’s not likely because OBL and followers were in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets and the Communist government in Kabul and backed by Pakistan’s ISI and wealthy Saudis. OBL had plenty of “followers” and fellow travelers regarless of the CIA’s screwing around in the region at the same time.

    *

  192. 192

    @gorram:

    To a civilian in Saudi Arabia, where the government is little more than organized nepotism among historical warlords, it makes sense that another perceived community (like say, the Wahhabi community) might be more important to them.

    The government- the House of Saud- is the government precisely because it has been the strong arm of the Wahhabist movement since 1744. The family and the religious movement are almost inextricable from each other.

    What we’ve been seeing here is a struggle between the relatively liberal (heh) Wahabbist members of the Saud family who are in power now facing off against there more fundamental Wahabbist Saud cousins. It’s the latter group who have been funding al Qaeda in order to weaken the support for the former.

    ETA: I see Yutsano beat me to that- he and I differ only on the timeline.

  193. 193
    mclaren says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    The other strain of garbled logic and scrambled reasoning we need to debunk pronto is the false argument that because it’s hard to trace an exact connection between American militarism and terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens, therefore there is no connection.

    This is as fallacious as claiming that because we can’t trace the exact particle HIV virus that infected a person, therefore it’s safe to have unprotected to with someone who has HIV.

    Let’s go on to debunk your specific assertions:

    Well, if there is a General Theory of Blowback, wouldn’t it predict that South American leftists would be plotting to blow up the School of the Americas by now? And yet, they don’t.

    First, nobody says there’s a “general theory of blowback.” That’s a straw man, and a particularly infantile one. Read Chalmers Johnson’s book Blowback. He traces the long history of, for example, Iran’s state sponsorship of anti-American terrorism to the United States’ involvement with Britain in overthrowing the democratically elected government of Mossadegh in the 1950s.

    As for your specific example of the School of the Americas, you’re simply wrong on the facts there. In actual fact, American leftists have organized long-standing and ever-growing demonstrations against the School of the Americas. Priests are going to prison for years for participating in these demonstrations. This is serious stuff, and while it’s not actual violence, the left is very serious about shutting down the School of the Americas.

    As for “lack of violent attacks” being an indication of alleged lack of interest by the American, bear in mind that the American left hasn’t organized violent attacks since the Vietnam war. Violent attacks are more typical of the American right, and have been for the last 40 years.

    Why does blowback only apply in the Middle East and North Africa…

    One reason would be Islam, a religion that has no pope and hasn’t yet had a Reformation. As a result all followers of Islam consider themselves part of a global community without the kinds of schisms that tend to separate, say, 7th Day Adventists from Mormons from Catholics. It has been stated many times by many Islamic fundamentalists that an attack against any Islamic nation anywhere is considered an attack against all of Islam.

    Islam hasn’t yet undergone a reformation, as Christianity did in the 16th century, to separate church from state and make the sectarian divisions less divisive. Until that happens, you’re going to tend to get a “they’re attacking all of Islam” reaction when the U.S. bombs any Islamic nation.

    This kind of reaction isn’t unique to Islam. Any political-social movement that considers itself global will react this way. Communism was also considered a global movement by its followers and in the 1970s and 1980s we saw the same kind of “blowback” in Europe from American attacks on various Soviet satellites. The Red Brigade, the Bader-Meinhof gang, and so on.

    What you’re basically trying to do here is to wave out of existence Chalmers Johnson’s entire book Blowback and that kind of argument doesn’t work. You need to provide some serious arguments against Johnson’s data and historical examples. Otherwise you’re just making the kind of ridiculous assertions as someone who claims to disprove global warming because “this winter was especially cold.”

  194. 194

    @karen:

    The OBLs and Sadam Husseins of the world hate us because we support Israel. PERIOD.
    And before anyone accuses me of anti-semitism, I’m Jewish so try again.

    That’s the short game.

    Now here’s the long game:

    In 1960, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had a population of roughly 4 million, almost all Saudi citizens. As of 2010, the population is over 27 million (18 million + citizens, 8 million + guest workers).

    How does a desert nation get the food to grow its population almost 700% in 50 years? It trades for it, of course. What happens if that nation’s trade is based on a single commodity, and the supply of that commodity has peaked? They’ve got to find another commodity to trade, become dependent upon charity, let the population starve or…Expand the borders.

    This is a smart crowd. I think you can figure out how they might expand the borders.

  195. 195

    @mclaren:

    Any political-social movement that considers itself global will react this way. Communism was also considered a global movement by its followers and in the 1970s and 1980s we saw the same kind of “blowback” in Europe from American attacks on various Soviet satellites. The Red Brigade, the Bader-Meinhof gang, and so on.

    Radicalized True Believers. What happened to that in which Bader-Meinhof and the Red Brigade had placed their faith? Did the workers of the world cast off their chains and join in?

  196. 196
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @mclaren: You’re not understanding what I meant by referring to the School of the Americas. I am well aware that it is a flashpoint for grievances — that’s why I mentioned it. I brought it up as an parallel for the 9/11 attackers taking aim at financial and military sites, which, by blowback logic, makes plenty of sense. But no foreigners wronged by America’s adventurism in South and Central America have done any similar targeting (for instance, of the School of the Americas) even though it would be totally comprehensible if they had. So, why didn’t they? I would suggest that the fact that there isn’t a ready answer to that hypothetical suggests that “if you kill civilians you make more terrorists who want to kill you, obviously” is something less than the full story.

    Also, I don’t think it makes sense to attribute the Red Brigades’ violence to American overseas entanglements, as opposed to American corporatism and global capitalism.

  197. 197
    mclaren says:

    @karen:

    If GG and his people are claiming that if we just left all those countries, they wouldn’t strike against us and war would be over are either lying to make their point or are being willfully oblivious.

    Do you have any evidence to back up that baseless assertion?

    The OBLs and Sadam Husseins of the world hate us because we support Israel. PERIOD. And before anyone accuses me of anti-semitism, I’m Jewish so try again.

    That is factually just plain wrong. It is flatly wrong. It is provably wrong.

    Read the writings of Sayed Qutb, the guy who inspired Osama bin Laden and his fundamentalist jihadist followers.

    Qutb doesn’t rant and rail about Israel in his books. In In the Shadow of the Quran Qutb rants and rails about the immorality of the West. Loose women. Drinking. Carousing. Dancing! How evil!

    That’s what these guys are railing against, not Israel. Read their writings. Read Osama bin Laden’s “letter to America”:

    While seeking Allah’s help, we form our reply based on two questions directed at the Americans:

    (Q1) Why are we fighting and opposing you?

    (Q2)What are we calling you to, and what do we want from you?

    As for the first question: Why are we fighting and opposing you? The answer is very simple:

    (1) Because you attacked us and continue to attack us.

    You can’t get much clearer than that.

    Bin Laden mentions Palestine, and he goes on to discuss Somalia and Chechnya and the then-sanctions and blockade against Iraq.

    Bin Laden also points to alleged U.S. economic exploitation of the rest of the world:

    (d) You steal our wealth and oil at paltry prices because of you international influence and military threats. This theft is indeed the biggest theft ever witnessed by mankind in the history of the world.

    (e) Your forces occupy our countries; you spread your military bases throughout them; you corrupt our lands, and you besiege our sanctities, to protect the security of the Jews and to ensure the continuity of your pillage of our treasures.

    (f) You have starved the Muslims of Iraq, where children die every day. It is a wonder that more than 1.5 million Iraqi children have died as a result of your sanctions, and you did not show concern. Yet when 3000 of your people died, the entire world rises and has not yet sat down.

    Karen’s bogus argument here is that the jihadists are insane and evil and they’d attack us no matter what we did. That’s the long-debunked and fraudulent Republican argument that anyone who opposes them is evil and insane. The Republicans use this argument against people in other countries and also against anyone in America who disagrees with their policies, including Democrats.

    The obvious reason why it’s ridiculous to assert that the Islamic fundamentalists are merely insane and evil and they’d attack us no matter what we did is…if the Islamic fudnamentalists are so insane and so evil and so eager to attack us, why didn’t they attack us in 1950? Or 1960? Or 1970?

    America has ramped up its global military activities exponentially since the 1980s. Pentagon spending exploded under Reagan and has never dropped. We now have more than 700 bases worldwide, we’re fielding teams of JSOC assassins in 70 countries worldwide.

    That’s the reason why the Islamic jihadists started targeting us in the 1990s and 2000s — because America went berserk and starting torturing and killing people worldwide in an exponential explosion of extraordinary rendition (which began under Clinton, not Bush) and torture and assassination and covert “black ops” cluster-bombings and cruise missile strikes.

    Once created, death squads operated under their own colorful names — an Eye for an Eye, the Secret Anticommunist Army, the White Hand — yet were essentially appendages of the very intelligence systems that Washington either helped create or fortified. As in Vietnam, care was taken to make sure that paramilitaries appeared to be unaffiliated with regular forces. To allow for a plausible degree of deniability, the “elimination of the [enemy] agents must be achieved quickly and decisively”…

    See: “America’s trinity of terrorism: the network of U.S.-sponsored terrorism now on global display relies on death squads, disappearances and torture,” Greg Grandin, Salon.com, 2007

    CIA operatives have imprisoned and interrogated nearly 100 suspected terrorists in their former secret prisons around the world, but troops from this other secret organization have imprisoned and interrogated 10 times as many, holding them in jails that it alone controls in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, this secretive group of men (and a few women) has grown tenfold while sustaining a level of obscurity that not even the CIA managed. “We’re the dark matter. We’re the force that orders the universe but can’t be seen,” a strapping Navy SEAL, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said in describing his unit.

    Source: “‘Top Secret America’: A Look at the Military’s Joint Special Operations Command,” Dana Priest and William M. Arkin, 3 September 2011, The Washington Post.

    The bizarre delusion that Americans are innocent victims and the people who are flying planes into our skyscrapers or ramming explosive-filled Zodiac rafts into our naval ships are crazed madmen who are so insanely filled with hate that they’d kill us no matter what we did is a hallucination with no connection to reality.

    Only someone deluded by America’s media bubble, which carefully filters out and excludes any reporting on all the carnage of America’s ever-escalating covert warfare and sneak attacks against civilians in more than 70 countries could believe a fairytale this outlandish.

    …One can never emphasize enough how the U.S., through the policies undertaken in the name of the Terorrist Threat, is principally responsible for sustaining and continuously increasing that threat. In February, Jeremy Schaill returned from Yemen and documented how U.S. drone attacks are the primary source of Al Qaeda’s strength in that country. In March, David Rohde — the former New York Times reporter who was kidnapped and held in Pakistan by the Taliban for seven months — documented how Obama’s “signature strikes” in Pakistan are also “backfiring”:

    From Pakistan to Yemen to post-American Iraq, drones often spark deep resentment where they operate. When they do attack, they kill as brutally as any weapon of war. The administration’s practice of classifying the strikes as secret only exacerbates local anger and suspicion. Under Obama, drone strikes have become too frequent, too unilateral, and too much associated with the heavy-handed use of American power.

    Source: “America’s Drone Sickness,” Glenn Greenwald, 19 April 2012, Salon.com.

    But of course, that’s Glenn Greenwald, a limp pathetic leftie who wants to give therapy to terrorists and hold their hands, right? (Karen is channeling Karl Rove here.)

    No, conservatives like Conor Friedersdorf and Andrew Sullivan have been as vehement in their opposition to the drone insanity and American global covert-action black ops kidnappings and torture and assassinations as Greenwald:

    A bigger problem, though far from the biggest, is the notion that Obama has “accomplished exactly what he said he’d accomplish” while waging the war on terrorism. He has, it’s true, killed Osama bin Laden, along with other people ranging from Al Qaeda operatives to innocent children. He also ended the war in Iraq on President Bush’s timetable and surged troops into Afghanistan. And he signed an executive order barring torture, the most depraved practice of his predecessor.

    But Obama hasn’t eliminated Al Qaeda — how many more number twos will die in the next year? — and his foreign policy as a whole has strayed dramatically from what he promised. That is obvious. And you don’t need to take my word for it. As Sullivan himself once noted, “those of us who fought for Obama’s election precisely because we wanted a return to the rule of law were conned.” And “the perverse truth is that, in some ways, the Obama administration is in greater violation of Geneva than even the Bush-Cheney administration.” This is worth noting too:

    Aggressively trying to prevent torture victims from having their day in court merely using unclassified evidence is active complicity in the war crimes of the past. And such complicity is itself a war crime. Either we live under the rule of law and the Geneva Conventions, or we don’t. And when Obama says we don’t — as he unmistakably is — the precedent he is setting all but ensures that torture will come again, that there will never be consequences for it, and that the national security state can cloak itself in such a way that the citizenry has no way of penetrating its power. Bush and Cheney remain the real culprits here; but watching Obama essentially surrendering to their trap is a betrayal of a core rationale for his candidacy.

    Source: “Obama Supporters Know His Drone War Is Indefensible,” Conor Friedersdorf, The American Conservative, 7 June 2012.

    And here’s Andrew Sullivan:

    The drone attacks into Pakistan are mighty close to warfare, it seems to me. There comes a point, in other words, at which a military kinetic action becomes a war. Drones are particularly dangerous instruments in this respect. They allow a president to pick war at will, and placate the public with no military casualties. This is precisely what the Founders were scared of. We have created a King with an automated army, and no Congressional or public check outside of elections, when the damage may have already been done.

    So let’s summarize:

    To believe Karen, we have to ignore what the jihadists themselves say about why they’ve done what they’ve done. We have to ignore America’s 30-year massive military buildup since the 1980s. We have to agree with Karl Rove that liberals and Democrats are pathetic pansies who just want to hold the hands of evil terrorists. We have to believe that the terrorists aren’t even human, they’re mad dogs, crazed killers so evil that they’ll hurl themselves against us in wave after wave of lunatic suicide attacks no matter what we do.

    To believe Karen, we have to dehumanize one fifth of the world’s population and ignore history and wipe out of existence everything the terrorists write or say about their own motivations.

    Maybe you’re ready to sign on to the kind of immersion in deep delusion, Karen. The rest of us aren’t.

  198. 198
    mclaren says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    You’re asking for a specific answer to why people haven’t done something, and that’s about as useful as asking why the Democrats didn’t pick someone who could win to run for president in 1968.

    Chalmers Johnson and many others have pointed out that while you can make a general connection between ongoing American military activities and terrorism, you can’t make specific connections twixt one U.S. bombing here and one terrorist attack there.

    More to the point, U.S. military involvement in the mideast has been direct of late, whereas for the last 30 years it’s been limited to an advisory role in S. America.

  199. 199
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @mclaren: I still don’t see why “drones” are any more worrisome philosophically than cannons or spears. They all kill at a distance. Bombs from planes kill at a distance, and few of the planes stand a chance at getting shot down. But I don’t remember anyone over the last century being all fretful about the existence of bombs because they make killing too easy. The issue is firing indiscriminately, regardless of the weaponry involved.

    For that matter, regarding this “rule of law” stuff, the lawmaking branch of the government has decided to abdicate its responsibility to check the executive and willingly extends the executive more power. I don’t see why that’s Obama’s problem. If conservative and liberal civil libertarians want to stop these things, they should demand that their representatives rein them in with clarifying laws. To go back to an example I’ve used before, no business when hiring wants to make sure Human Resources is _more_ involved. So I’m not surprised that a president doesn’t want to knock himself out being more scrupulous than the legislative even asks him to be.

  200. 200
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @mclaren: I don’t think there is a specific answer and haven’t actually asked for one. But I think the fact that it hasn’t happened even when there are sufficient _grounds_ for it to have suggests that anti-American terrorism is not simply a product of provocative American actions. Because, as you know, America does lots of provocative things, and yet terrorist attacks are nowhere near that frequent or proportional.

  201. 201

    @mclaren:

    OT, but I need to ask:

    How much meth do you smoke in a day?

  202. 202
    gorram says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again):

    What we’ve been seeing here is a struggle between the relatively liberal (heh) Wahabbist members of the Saud family who are in power now facing off against there more fundamental Wahabbist Saud cousins. It’s the latter group who have been funding al Qaeda in order to weaken the support for the former.

    Actually, that’s what I said. There’s multiple Wahhabist factions in play here, and the one that arguably controls the government doesn’t exactly have the support of even all of the Saudi family (Osama being the obvious example). The more “populist” Wahhabists (those that are more directly appealing to the lower classes, especially the Bedouins who have been either excluded or exploited by the new urban-focused economy in addition to historical political exclusion) clearly hold a lot of social power and are in the midst of a pretty violent conflict with the government.

    My original point was that those religious communities might hold more meaning for a person in Saudi Arabia than their national status. Osama bin Laden was (according to his own statements) angered about the negotiation between the pro-government Wahhabists and non-Muslims, resulting in what he considered the desecration and occupation of the Arabian peninsula (in order to very inexactly kill militants for or civilians under one of the few Sunni-dominated regimes to the North). From his perspective this was an attack, even if not on his nation (ie: Saudi Arabia) in that it exemplified a betrayal of what he saw as the Islamic community’s interests by the pro-government Wahhabists and military operations against either a buffer against the Shia-dominated areas to the North or a potential field of Sunni recruits to Wahhabism. The relevant community here isn’t his national community, but rather a religious and political one that was actually already at odds with the Saudi state and which the US’s intervention in the region helped exacerbate.

    I don’t agree with Osama bin Laden’s perspective, but I think it’s pretty clear that founding Al Qaeda, orchestrating 9/11, and then living in hiding for the following decade+ isn’t something you do just to get more recruits (circular logic much?), but a series of choices he made which, given his values and opinions, were logical to him. He (and seemingly his many Saudi recruits) felt attacked by the United States, even if we weren’t bombing his country.

    This was not, as suggested upthread a case of people in Country A (the US) attacking people in Country B (Iraq, say) and somehow this pissing off people in Country C (Saudi Arabia), because national status isn’t necessarily the most relevant identity here. If you belong to a sect that posits an international community of believers, that’s pretty obviously not true. An attack outside of your state can be perceived as an attack on your community.

    (It’s also pretty obvious that there were other factors than feeling his community, or arguably potential recruits to his community, were under attack, but rather that the US was deliberately endangering and desecrating his community – by occupying the sacred ground of the peninsula although non-Muslim and politically weakening a Sunni, if secular, regime to the North).

  203. 203
    Spectre says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Latin America spent several decades with terrorist groups springing up in the name of Marxism-Leninism. Seriously, thaFuc is you talking about?

  204. 204
    Spectre says:

    “Our destruction of Latin America didn’t cause anything1!11”

    Howabout almost destroying the planet? Remember that neat little time when our terrorist attacks on Cuba resulted in them agreeing to host a nuclear arsenal pointed at us? Remember a little incident that almost happened?

    The infinite ignorance of Obot authoritarians never fails to disappoint.

  205. 205
    Keith G says:

    There have been times in the past when I have been critical of Mclaren’s commentary. This was mainly due to her/his use of ad hominem insults as well as what seemed like appeals to emotion instead of fact.

    In this thread, it seems he/she has made a very strong case and done so quite adroitly. Mclaren has stayed on topic and dealt with misdirection and even outright obtuseness provided by others. It is a stronger case, but not a perfect case so I think all of us who care about the better operation of or democratic government (regardless of which party in in power) need to do our homework and gather better information.

    My concern, apart from the immorality of a process that regularly harms the innocent, is that later or sooner Obama will be a former president. It is plainly the fact that a future president will be more strident, more warlike. I fear that Obama’s actions provide a series of “unfortunate” precedents to be followed and broadened by future commanders in chief.

  206. 206
    Donald says:

    “Rule One: Never respond to Andrew “Fifth Columnists” Sullivan on this kind of stuff because, while he’s finally been convinced that the Iraq War was poorly run, he’s still working on comprehending the idea that invading other countries on false pretenses is inherently bad.”

    Andrew Sullivan used to be completely insane. Nowadays I think he’s good on some days and some issues and not so good on others. Sort of what I’d say about GG, except that most of the time GG sticks to human rights issues and American hypocrisy, where I think he’s generally right. (When he talks about, say, Citizens United, not so much.)

    Karen said–

    “If GG and his people are claiming that if we just left all those countries, they wouldn’t strike against us and war would be over are either lying to make their point or are being willfully oblivious.
    1. The OBLs and Sadam Husseins of the world hate us because we support Israel. PERIOD.
    And before anyone accuses me of anti-semitism, I’m Jewish so try again.
    2. They want a holy war. So even if we weren’t there, they’d be against us and would be out to kill us because we are NOT LIKE THEM.
    3. At least Obama knew where to go and who to take out. Iraq was a chance for Shrub to make up for his daddy leaving Iraq without “winning.” Iraq was a fucking waste of time that killed people needlessly. Sorry but Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia would be against us regardless of if we were there or not.
    I’m not saying we’re blameless. But using simplistic answers like “They hate us because we have drones there” proves that you don’t care about what led us to use those drones and why we’re there.”

    My response, taking things in order–

    GG didn’t say that–he’s been critical of our support of Israel as well. One of the strange things about blog comment sections is how people sometimes don’t seem to know the first thing about the folks (to use an Obamaism) they attack. GG and “his people” who criticize US violence are often also the ones criticizing the violence of America’s allies and our blind support for them.

    Point 1 contradicts point 2. Both are oversimplified nonsense.

    Point 3, about Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia, is more oversimplified nonsense, but Mclaren handled that.

    And the last sentence contains a strawman and then a non sequitur. Nobody thinks the drones are the only reason “they” hate us, but if someone said that people hate us because of drones it wouldn’t “prove” that he or she doesn’t care what led us to use those drones and why we’re there.

  207. 207
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Keith G: Mclaren was much better than usual; however, s/he still does not really acknowledge that some actions by non-state actors such as piracy and terrorism can require, and have be met with, a military response. The problem that needs to be resolved is not whether military or law enforcement methods are appropriate, but when to use each.

    As far as drones go, they are a tool – not inherently bad. They carry a strong danger that decision makers will see them as a magic bullet whereby military action can be conducted cleanly. This is, of course, bullshit; military action is never clean. It might be necessary but it is always bloody and messy. A belief that they are clean could lead, and arguably has led, to the US taking action without enough forethought The other real danger of reliance on drones is that without eyes on the ground the difference between a wedding party or family reunion at which a targeted person is present and a group of terrorists having lunch before continuing to march is hard to determine. As a result, killing of “civilians” is far too common. If drones continue to be used, and they will, this problem simply must be addressed.

  208. 208
    accidentalfission says:

    Has anyone stopped to think that the operators of these UCAVs, these brave soldiers, sleep off-base at night in civilian neighborhoods in the continental U.S.?

    Reapers or Predators are also being flown from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona, Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, March Air Reserve Base in California, Springfield Air National Guard Base in Ohio, Cannon Air Force Base and Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, Ellington Airport in Houston, Texas, the Air National Guard base in Fargo, North Dakota, Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, and Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, New York. Recently, it was announced that Reapers, flown by Hancock’s pilots, would begin taking off on training missions from the Army’s Fort Drum, also in New York State. While at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, according to a report by the New York Times earlier this year, teams of camouflage-clad Air Force analysts sit in a secret intelligence and surveillance installation monitoring cell phone intercepts, high altitude photographs, and most notably, multiple screens of streaming live video from drones in Afghanistan — what they call “Death TV” — while instant-messaging and talking to commanders on the ground in order to supply them with real-time intelligence on enemy troop movements.

    Is this the same as using “human shields”?

  209. 209
    brantl says:

    @Stuck in the Funhouse: You’ve missed a number of historical things, SITF. Some, but by no means all of them: We helped assasinate the duly elected president of Iran, because he was going to nationalize the oil industries in his country. Perfectly legal that he do that, we just hated it. That was us and the British. Then we have bullied the governments of every country over there to keep business-friendly governments available to service our needs, using diplomacy, military threats, what have you. Then we funded the mujihadeen until the Soviets were out, then we dropped them like a hot rock. Then, we lied up a war to invade a Muslim country, and kill a million of their people, to establish a military foothold in their country. Is that enough for you, for someone to hate us? If it were done to me, I would hate at least the government administration of the country responsible, if not the willful ignorance of the people of that country. Honestly, wouldn’t you?

  210. 210
    Keith G says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Your points are well taken. Recall that I typed that the process was immoral, not the mechanics.

    Your comment about the dangers brought by the easy, low cost, and the lack of immediate to American lives of drone attacks make them a prime candidate for further abuse.

    Imagine this future conversation:

    “Excuse me sir, but do you think it is right to conduct this drone attack?”

    “What?! So you are telling me that you want to see some young American soldiers lose their lives over this?”

  211. 211
    LAC says:

    Well, we know what preening asshole will be swanning around in a caftan on the beach in brazil while united states gets its just desserts. Besides the swarm of GG fanboys using big words, what do you get out of it , Cole? Back on his twitter account, are you?

  212. 212
    sk says:

    @samuel:

    He supports Ron Paul’s view on the War on Drugs and on the War in Iraq and government spying. Frankly, so should any sane person. That Ron Paul can be totally correct on these issues and totally insane on the gold standard or totally insane on women’s rights and racism are not at all mutually exclusive.

  213. 213
    sparky says:

    @mclaren: nicely put.

    it’s too bad the Levinson post about the openness of the liberal brain wasn’t posted after this one.

  214. 214
    sparky says:

    fun facts:

    in 2003, the US pulled its troops out of Saudi Arabia.

    Micah Zenko at the Council on Foreign Relations observes that based on the most recent USG official statistics on global terrorism for 2011,”the number of U.S. citizens who died in terrorist attacks [is comparable to those] crushed to death by their televisions or furniture each year.” So the inert television and chairs sitting around your house are every bit as threatening to your physical safety as the sum total of all terrorist organizations actively operating world-wide.

    Source: Sic Semper Tyrannis 11 June 2012

  215. 215
    Clean Willie says:

    @mclaren:

    Actually, I applaud you—and quite sincerely.

    Well, you should, cause I’ve been on your side all along. (You post good stuff but you swing a little wild sometimes.)

  216. 216
    brantl says:

    @FlipYrWhig: No, there is an inevitable response that it will make you at least want to kill certain “americans” (they are Americans from the northernmost extremes of Canada to the southern tip of South America, you know, and even then I bet the smart ones want to kill Cheney and Bush, and more Cheney than Bush).

  217. 217
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Spectre: Or, in other words, it caused terrorism, but not anti-American terrorism of the sort that “blowback” would predict. America got involved somewhere and fucked it all up, and yet the affected people didn’t retaliate by terrorizing America. That would seem to suggest that when America fucks around in other countries, it does not “naturally” produce “blowback.” And if it doesn’t, then blowback, i.e. retaliatory terrorism against America and
    Americans, is a low-level concern when it comes to discussing why America shouldn’t meddle in other countries’ affairs. Human rights, I submit, is a much more important concern, and it applies whether or not people from the other country feel more like killing Americans when those rights are violated.

  218. 218
    MBunge says:

    All this blather and I’ve yet to see anyone explain how stopping the drone attacks is going to help anything. What? You think the smelly brown people over there are so stupid that if we stop with the drone stuff, they will all bust out in spontaneous chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!”?

    Mike

  219. 219
    Rob in CT says:

    So what’s the cost/benefit ratio? I don’t fucking know. But neither does Greenwald.

    Setting aside moral considerations for a moment, THIS.

    And, I might add, neither did Bin Laden. His bet, as far as I can see, was that we’d go apeshit (correct) and go rampaging around killing lots of Muslims (correct), ???, GLOBAL CALIPHATE! (um, yeah, no). He was delusional about the outcome, but he had our reaction pegged pretty well.

    I’m mostly with Greenwald on this stuff, because I don’t set aside the moral consideration. If you decide the blowback thing is unknowable and thus a wash (which is roughly where I’m at), you are left with the morality of our policies, which I find somewhere between “dubious” and “repugnant.”

    My perfect world never-in-a-million-years reaction to 9/11? Rebuild the Twin Towers *exactly the way they were* as a double-barrelled fuck you to terrorists, keep calm and carry on. But no. Everybody had to lose their fucking minds.

  220. 220
    BrianM says:

    @mclaren would be an interesting occasional front-pager.

  221. 221
    Rob in CT says:

    @MBunge:

    Of course not. But then that means the drone strikes have to continue indefinitely, does it not? Which is obviously ridiculous.

  222. 222

    @brantl:

    You’ve missed a number of historical things, SITF.

    Uh-oh.

    We helped assasinate the duly elected president of Iran, because he was going to nationalize the oil industries in his country.

    Operation Ajax overthrew Mossadegh in 1953.

    Mossadegh died in 1967, at the age of 85. He was not assassinated.

    Then we funded the mujihadeen until the Soviets were out, then we dropped them like a hot rock.

    No, we continued supporting one faction of the mujihadeen- that faction that governed Afghanistan and was later replaced- through a bloody civil war- by the Taliban, known upon the Taliban’s ascent to power as the Northern Alliance. Like the Tali9ban, it was Islamist in nature, albeit less radically fundamental. Unlike the Taliban, it is not Pashtun-nationalist in nature.

  223. 223

    @sparky:

    Well ain’t that a cute little quote?

    Maybe we can break down the number of deaths per year by drone attack and compare that to recreational boating deaths per year.

  224. 224

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